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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. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  2. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  3. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  4. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

  5. They ruled there is no absolute right to keep a license, whether it be for a lifetime or a short period of time. So with that being said, this state taught me at the age of 15 how to obtain that license. I am actually doing something that I was taught to do, I'm not breaking the law breaking the rules and according to the Interstate Compact the National Interstate Compact...driving while suspended is a minor offense. So, do with that what you will..Indiana sucks when it comes to the driving laws, they really and truly need to reevaluate their priorities and honestly put the good of the community first... I mean, what's more important the pedophile drug dealer or wasting time and money to keep us off the streets?

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