Involuntary commitment affirmed for ‘gravely disabled and dangerous’ man

The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed the involuntary temporary commitment for a man found to be gravely disabled and dangerous to himself and others, finding clear and convincing evidence supported the finding.

In March 2019, Dr. Syed Hasan on behalf of Community Health Network filed an emergency detention of B.N. The doctor alleged B.N. suffered from a psychiatric disorder and was both gravely disabled and dangerous to himself and others. According to the petition, B.N. had been “agitated, delusional, paranoid, not sleeping, report[ing] God is speaking to him[,]” had been refusing medication, had poor insight, poor judgment and suicidal ideations.

Hasan then filed for involuntary temporary commitment to the hospital and testified that his treatment plan for B.N. included continued inpatient treatment, two injections of an anti-psychotic medication, followed by a transition to outpatient services within one week. B.N. testified and corroborated Hasan’s testimony that he had agreed that he would follow the doctor’s recommendations for further commitment and medication.

However, B.N. appealed when the trial court ordered the commitment, arguing that it had violated his due process rights when it ordered him to commitment based in part on his own testimony given during the hearing. Specifically, he asserted the trial court’s consideration of his testimony, in which he agreed to follow the doctor’s recommendations, reduced the hospital’s burden of proving the involuntary commitment elements and resulted in a due process violation.

In rejecting B.N.’s argument, the Indiana Court of Appeals noted that the trial court’s consideration of B.N.’s testimony as to whether there was clear and clear and convincing evidence to support the temporary commitment order was permitted because both B.N. and Hasan’s testimony was considered evidence.

The appellate panel additionally found no evidence that the trial court either explicitly or implicitly held the hospital to a lesser burden of proof and similarly rejected his sufficiency challenge.

“B.N. contends that the Hospital presented ‘minimal evidence’ of the element that the commitment was appropriate and that his own testimony, which he suggests should not have been considered by the trial court, was the ‘primary evidence’ of the element. We disagree,” Judge Rudolph Pyle III wrote for the appellate court.

“Dr. Hasan testified about B.N.’s mental illness diagnosis, how B.N. posed a danger to others, and how B.N.’s judgment had been impaired by his disorganized thoughts, erratic behavior, lack of insight, and religious preoccupation,” the appellate court wrote. “The doctor also discussed B.N.’s proposed treatment plan, which included two injections of an anti-psychotic medication and a transition to outpatient services within one week.

“Dr. Hasan further testified about B.N.’s prognosis with and without further treatment and the need for B.N.’s temporary commitment at the Hospital in order to improve B.N.’s condition and to stabilize his medication before moving him to outpatient treatment. B.N.’s argument is nothing more than a request to reweigh the evidence, which we will not do.”

The appellate court thus affirmed the commitment in In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of B.N.; B.N. v. Community Health Network, Inc.,19A-MH-1037.

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