Judge: fundamental error rule doesn't apply to civil cases

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

An Indiana Court of Appeals judge disagreed with the decision of his fellow panel members to allow a man committed to a psychiatric unit to argue the trial court committed fundamental error by not issuing an order scheduling a hearing within three days of receiving the petition for involuntary commitment.

M.E., a military veteran who suffers from chronic illness and has a history of involuntary commitments, displayed behaviors that led to his admittance to the inpatient psychiatric unit of the VA Medical Center in Indianapolis. Six days later, a petition was filed to involuntarily commit him for at least 90 days; seven days later, the trial court appointed counsel for M.E. and set a hearing on the petition for the following week. M.E. was ordered to be committed at the hearing.

M.E. didn’t object at trial on any of the bases he asserted as error on appeal, so the majority reviewed his appeal to determine if M.E. established the trial court committed fundamental error. M.E. argued his rights were violated by the trial court when it didn’t issue an order scheduling a hearing within three days of its receipt of the petition to involuntarily commitment him and by not making a timely determination that M.E.’s prehearing detention was supported by probable cause.

Judges Paul Mathias and Terry Crone ruled M.E. did not establish fundamental error and upheld the trial court’s order of regular commitment in In the Matter of Commitment of M.E. v. V.A. Medical Center, No. 49A04-1102-MH-63.

Judge L. Mark Bailey concurred in result, but disagreed with the majority’s decision to allow M.E. to argue fundamental error so as to avoid procedural default.

“I acknowledge that a civil commitment is a significant deprivation of liberty and that this Court has, in the past, entertained an appellant’s argument that a civil commitment is analogous to a criminal trial,” he wrote. “I, however, do not feel at liberty to take the approach of applying the fundamental error rule to civil judgments.”

Bailey pointed out that the Indiana Supreme Court has not embraced the idea and he disagrees with undertaking a fundamental error analysis where waiver would suffice.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Lori, you must really love wedding cake stories like this one ... happy enuf ending for you?

  2. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  3. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  4. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?

  5. I hope you dont mind but to answer my question. What amendment does this case pretain to?