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

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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.
 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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