Committed defendant can be charged

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a pre-trial motion to dismiss a pending felony criminal recklessness charge against a defendant, ruling the length of time incompetent defendants are committed to a mental health institution does not allow for dismissal of charges.

In State of Indiana v. Charlene Davis, 49A02-0706-CR-545, the state argued the trial court did not have the legal authority to dismiss a Class D felony criminal recklessness charge against Davis. Davis was found to be incompetent to stand trial in May 2004 and was ordered to be committed to a Department of Mental Health psychiatric institution. Pursuant to Indiana Code 35-36-3-3(a), the superintendent of the state institution where the defendant is placed is required to certify to the trial court whether there is a substantial probability the defendant will become competent within the foreseeable future. The superintendent where Davis was placed wrote to the trial court Davis had not attained competency to stand trial and filed a petition for Davis' civil involuntary commitment. She was committed in September 2004 in Evansville.

In August 2005, Davis was evaluated again for competency to stand trial and still lacked competency. She was later transferred to Larue Carter Memorial Hospital; in March 2007, the chief medical officer at Larue Carter wrote to the trial court that in her opinion, Davis could not be restored to competency. As a result, Davis' counsel filed a motion to dismiss the felony charge because she had been involuntarily committed for longer than the maximum sentence for the charged crime. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss.

Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote the Indiana statutes for commitment during a criminal proceeding do not mention any procedure regarding pending criminal charges once a defendant is committed based on statute. The state argued this lack of statutory instruction does not allow the trial court to dismiss the charges over the state's objection.

Davis' counsel cited Jackson v. Indiana, 406 U.S. 715, 717 (1972) in allowing the trial court to dismiss the charge. The U.S. Supreme Court held in the case a defendant charged by a state with a criminal offense who is committed solely because of incapacity to proceed with the trial can't be held for more than "the reasonable period of time necessary to determine whether there is substantial probability that he will attain that capacity in the foreseeable future."

Davis' attorneys argued allowing charges to remain pending against a defendant who has been found incompetent violates due process, but the U.S. Supreme Court did not address that issue in Jackson, wrote Judge Bailey. Davis' charge was not dismissed because of due process; it was dismissed because she had been committed for longer than the maximum sentence for the crime.

The court found no authority for equating time in civil involuntary commitment to credit for time served for pending criminal charges.

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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues