ILNews

Mental-health facility report not same as charging instrument

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The due process protections applicable to a charging instrument in a criminal case aren’t applicable to a report filed after someone is detained in a mental-health facility, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

In Commitment of A.L., No. 49A02-1001-MH-76, A.L., whom the appellate court noted may have already been released from detention, challenged the trial court’s order of temporary commitment. She argued the trial court committed fundamental error by letting Wishard Health Services, Midtown Health Center state one ground for involuntary commitment in a pre-hearing report following emergency detention and then state an additional ground for commitment at her final hearing. She also claimed the order wasn’t supported by clear and convincing evidence.

A.L. was taken to Wishard from the Statehouse after asking officials to help her get access to “child papers and wills” in Monticello, Ind. She was admitted based on emergency detention. She was later committed after a hearing for a period of no more than 90 days.

Wishard cited severe disability as the reason for involuntary commitment in the physician’s report but then also listed dangerousness at her hearing. A.L. believed that Wishard had to give her pre-hearing notice of every ground that supported its request for temporary involuntary commitment. She didn’t object to the “dangerous” claim at the hearing, but she claims it was a fundamental error that the court can review on appeal.

A.L. compared the report to a charging instrument in a criminal case and claimed there was a “fatal or material variance” between the report and the evidence presented at trial. But the judges rejected her argument because she cited no authority to support her position and because the charging instrument serves a different purpose than the report filed in the instant case.

The charging instrument gives a defendant notice of the crime she’s charged with so she can prepare a defense; the report is to inform the trial court that a mental-health facility has examined the detainee and whether she is mentally ill and either dangerous or gravely disabled and requires continuing care, wrote Senior Judge Betty Barteau. In addition, A.L. was represented by counsel at her hearing.

“After considering these factors, we conclude that any error in the trial court’s admission of evidence or consideration of Wishard’s argument as to A.L.’s dangerousness was not a blatant violation of our concepts of fundamental fairness and did not cause substantial and apparent harm to A.L.,” she wrote.

Even if they didn’t consider whether A.L. was dangerous, the appellate judges also found sufficient evidence to support the order because Wishard proved by clear and convincing evidence that she was gravely disabled.
 

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  1. Oh, the name calling was not name calling, it was merely social commentary making this point, which is on the minds of many, as an aside to the article's focus: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100111082327AAmlmMa Or, if you prefer a local angle, I give you exhibit A in that analysis of viva la difference: http://fox59.com/2015/03/16/moed-appears-on-house-floor-says-hes-not-resigning/

  2. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  3. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  4. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  5. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

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