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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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