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Court split over denial to commit man with dementia

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Although the majority on the Indiana Court of Appeals acknowledged it would have been better for the trial court to follow the statutory commitment procedures instead of outright denying the state’s motion to commit, it affirmed the trial court’s conclusion.

William Coats was charged with Class D felony sexual battery against his granddaughter. He has Alzheimer’s disease and a competency investigation led to two doctors diagnosing him with dementia and finding he will never be restored to competency. The state wanted Coats committed to the Division of Mental Health and Addiction, but the trial court denied it.

The state argues that based on Indiana Code 35-36-3-1, the trial court is required to have Coats committed once an incompetency finding is made.

On interlocutory appeal in State of Indiana v. William Coats,49A02-1206-CR-526, Judges Michael Barnes and John Baker affirmed, citing Curtis v. State, 948 N.E.2d 1143 (Ind. 2011), and State v. J.S., 937 N.E.2d 831 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010).

“Although the better practice in most cases is to follow the statutory commitment procedures, given Coats’s progressive dementia and the trial court’s finding that he will not be restored to competency, the purposes of the competency restoration process cannot be met by following those procedures here. It is clear that Coats’s dementia will progress, and there simply is no hope nor medical reason to believe that competency will be restored,” Barnes wrote.

In her dissent, Judge Patricia Riley wrote that the statutory scheme does not allow the trial court discretion over the statutory commitment procedures.

“The trial court determines whether the defendant is incompetent in the first instance, but the statutory scheme entrusts the ultimate determination on competency to the superintendent, who has not only the skills to make such observations but also the time within which to do so,” she wrote.  

 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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