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Justices take commitment case involving man with Alzheimer’s disease

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The Indiana Supreme Court will take a case that divided the Court of Appeals: whether a trial court is required to have a man with Alzheimer’s disease committed once an incompetency finding is made.

On interlocutory appeal, judges Michael Barnes and John Baker affirmed the trial court’s decision to deny committing William Coats to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction. Coats was charged with Class D felony sexual battery against his granddaughter, and two doctors diagnosed him with dementia and found he won’t ever be restored to competency.

The majority held that it would be best for the trial court to follow statutory commitment procedures, but given Coats’ dementia and the finding he won’t be restored to competency, that the trial court’s decision was not an error. Judge Patricia Riley dissented, writing that the statutory scheme does not allow the trial court discretion over the statutory commitment procedures.

The case is State of Indiana v. William Coats, 49S02-1305-CR-328.

The justices also accepted Derek Asklar and Pauline Asklar v. David Gilb, Paul Garrett Smith d/b/a P.H. One Trucking, Empire Fire and Marine Insurance Co., d/b/a Zurich, 02S03-1305-CT-332; and Ernesto Roberto Ramirez v. State of Indiana, 45S05-1305-CR-331.

In Asklar, the Court of Appeals found the trial court erroneously applied Georgia law in a lawsuit brought by a truck driver injured in a collision in West Virginia because the trucking company that employed Derek Asklar was based in Georgia. But Indiana law applies because Asklar was driving a truck registered and principally garaged here.

In a not-for-publication decision in Ramirez, the Court of Appeals affirmed convictions of murder and Class D felony criminal gang activity. Ramirez claimed the trial court improperly denied his motion for a mistrial due to alleged jury misconduct and that his sentence for murder is inappropriate.

The justices denied transfer to 21 cases for the week ending May 10.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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