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A.A. v. Eskenazi Health/Midtown CMHC

Court of Appeals of Indiana

July 20, 2017

A.A., Appellant-Respondent,
v.
Eskenazi Health/Midtown CMHC, Appellee-Petitioner

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court Trial Court Cause No. 49D08-1609-MH-31348 The Honorable Steven R. Eichholtz, Judge

          Attorney for Appellant Deborah Markisohn Marion County Public Defender Agency Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellees Jessica Proctor Barth Eskenazi Health Indianapolis, Indiana Bryan H. Babb Bose McKinney & Evans LLP Indianapolis, Indiana

          Baker, Judge.

         [¶1] A.A. was involuntarily committed to Eskenazi Health/Midtown Community Mental Health Clinic ("Eskenazi"). He was not present at the commitment hearing. A.A. appeals, arguing that he did not validly waive his right to personally appear at his commitment hearing, and that he had a due process and a statutory right to be present. Eskenazi Health argues that the trial court had independent statutory authority to waive A.A.'s right to be present at the commitment hearing, and that A.A.'s presence at the commitment hearing would have been dangerous to A.A. and others at the hearing. We find that neither A.A. nor his counsel could validly waive his right to appear, but that the trial court had a statutory right to waive A.A.'s presence. Accordingly, we affirm.

         Facts[1]

         [¶2] A.A. is thirty-six years old and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He has been previously hospitalized and committed.

         [¶3] On August 29, 2016, A.A.'s mother completed an application for A.A.'s emergency detention. On August 31, 2016, the trial court issued an order for A.A. to be detained and taken to Eskenazi. On September 7, 2016, Eskenazi filed a report following emergency detention.

         [¶4] On September 12, 2016, a civil commitment hearing took place. A.A. was not present. When the trial court asked A.A.'s counsel about A.A., the following exchange occurred:

Court: Good morning, everybody. We are here on a report following Emergency Detention. I see that [A.A.] is not present. [Counsel for A.A.], can you address that?
Counsel for A.A.: Yes, Judge. Thank you. I have been informed that [A.A.] is agitated. I have tried to call him before today's hearing to talk to him about his case. He would not answer the phone. I was informed this morning that he was not brought over due to him being agitated. So we are waiving his appearance today.
Court: Thank you. Miss Barth, good morning.
Counsel for Eskenazi: Good morning, Judge.
Court: That does raise a question I kind of had, because I looked through the files and I see that we always send out a summons or fax one over. Do you guys serve them ...

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