In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of A.M., A.M. Appellant-Respondent,
Community Health Network, Inc., Appellee-Petitioner.
from the Marion Superior Court Trial Court Cause No.
49D08-1802-MH-7271 The Honorable Kelly M. Scanlan,
Attorneys for Appellant Valerie K. Boots Marion County Public
Defender Agency - Appellate Division Indianapolis, Indiana
Joel M. Schumm Indianapolis, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Jenny R. Buchheit Stephen E. Reynolds
Gregory W. Pottorff Ice Miller, LLP Indianapolis, Indiana
A.M. appeals the Marion Superior Court's order of
temporary involuntary commitment. A.M. raises two arguments,
which we restate as:
I. Whether the order is defective because it was only signed
by the master commissioner, and not the trial judge; and,
II. Whether the temporary involuntary commitment was
supported by clear and convincing evidence of grave
and Procedural History
A.M. is a forty-eight-year-old woman who suffers from a
schizophrenia spectrum disorder. On or about February 21,
2018, A.M. was in the lobby of an Indianapolis Hampton Inn
and was exhibiting disorganized behavior and thoughts. After
concluding that A.M. needed medical treatment, a law
enforcement officer transported her to Community North
Hospital ("the Hospital").
A.M. was examined by Dr. Shilpa Puri, and on February 22,
2018, the Hospital filed an Application for Emergency
Detention. The Hospital alleged that A.M. was suffering from
a psychiatric disorder "which substantially disturbs her
thinking, feeling or behavior and impairs her ability of
function." Appellant's App. p. 12. The Hospital
specifically alleged that A.M. was either dangerous to
herself or others or gravely disabled "as evidenced by
disorganized behavior and thoughts and paranoid delusions.
[A.M.] was very disheveled and malodorous upon admission
indicating that she has not been taking care of her hygiene.
She has been refusing all medication and labs."
Five days later, the Hospital filed a "Report Following
Emergency Detention" and alleged that A.M. was suffering
from "unspecified schizophrenia spectrum and other
psychotic disorder and is dangerous[.]" Id. at
14. The Hospital recommended that A.M. be detained pending
the hearing. The accompanying physician's statement
alleged that A.M. was both dangerous to herself and others
and gravely disabled. Dr. Puri believed that A.M. was
"in need of custody, care, or treatment in an
appropriate facility," that "[o]utpatient treatment
would be adequate," and "[c]ommitment would not be
necessary if this person were taking medication."
Id. at 17. Dr. Puri advised that A.M. refused to
begin voluntary treatment. Therefore, the Hospital requested
a temporary involuntary commitment not to exceed ninety days.
The commitment hearing was held on March 1, 2018, before
Commissioner Scanlan. Dr. Puri testified that when A.M. was
admitted to the Hospital, she "was jumping from topic to
topic" and displayed "very disorganized
behavior." Tr. p. 6.
She would throw a bunch of food and jigsaw piece[s] all over
her room. She wasn't showering, taking care of her
hygiene. She was expressing grandiose delusions about her
being on a neuro-science committee for Eli Lilly. Traveling
to different countries for conferences. As well as paranoid
delusions about the police being after her.
Dr. Puri examined A.M. eleven times from February 22 to March
1, 2018, including the morning of the hearing. She diagnosed
A.M. with unspecified schizophrenia based on the following
[T]he patient was displaying very disorganized thoughts,
jumping from topic to topic, no clear condition there.
Disorganized behavior including the jigsaw puzzles and food
being spread out all over her room. She would intermittently
yell on the unit, for no apparent reason. She has been seen
talking to her food. Been seen talking to herself, having
auditory hallucinations as well as those grandiose delusions
and the paranoid delusions that I mentioned earlier.
Id. at 7. Dr. Puri testified that A.M. lacks insight
into her mental illness, which "affect[s] her ability to
seek care" and take medications. Id. at 8. Dr.
Puri stated that A.M. missed sixteen doses of her medication.
Id. Dr. Puri does not believe that A.M. will take
medication unless she is hospitalized.
Dr. Puri also testified that A.M. is not able to provide
herself with food, clothing and shelter. She was not aware
whether A.M. had income or a place to live prior to her
hospital admission, and A.M. was not employed. A.M.'s
appearance is "disheveled," and she does not shower
or brush her teeth. Id. at 8-9. To the doctor's
knowledge, A.M. does not have anyone who can assist her in
meeting her basic needs.
The following exchange occurred at the hearing concerning the
extent of A.M.'s mental illness:
Question: Does Miss M suffer a substantial impairment or an
obvious deterioration of her judgment, reasoning or behavior
that results in her ...