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In re Commitment of C.N.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

January 14, 2019

In the Matter of the Commitment of C.N. C.N. Appellant/Respondent,
v.
Eskenazi Health/Midtown CMHC, Appellee/Petitioner.

          Appeal from the Marion Superior Court No. 49D08-1802-MH-6841. The Honorable Kelly Scanlan, Commissioner The Honorable Steven R. Eichholtz, Judge

          Attorneys for Appellant Megan Shipley Valerie K. Boots Marion County Public Defender Agency Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Bryan H. Babb Sarah T. Parks Anna Kirkman Bose McKinney & Evans LLP Indianapolis, Indiana

          PYLE, JUDGE.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] C.N. ("C.N.") appeals the trial court's order for his involuntary regular civil commitment.[1] He argues that: (1) the trial court's order was defective because it contained only the commissioner's signature and lacked the required judge's signature; (2) there was insufficient evidence to prove that he was "gravely disabled;" (3) there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court's forced medication order; and (4) there was insufficient evidence that he needed to be committed for longer than ninety days. Because we conclude that there was insufficient evidence to prove that C.N. was "gravely disabled," we reverse the trial court's decision and remand for the trial court to vacate the order of regular commitment.[2]

         [¶2] We reverse and remand with instructions.

         Issue

         Whether there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court's regular commitment of C.N.

         Facts

         [¶3] In February 2018, Eskenazi Health/Midtown Community Mental Health ("Eskenazi") filed an application for the emergency detention of C.N. The physician completing the application alleged that C.N. was gravely disabled and a danger to himself because he had "an established history of Bipolar Disorder with Psychotic features, [was] not in treatment, ha[d] grandiose delusions of being a special agent, and ha[d] entered [a] secure government area recently under false pretenses." (App. Vol. 2 at 12). Based on this application, the trial court issued an order authorizing the emergency detention of C.N.

         [¶4] Following C.N.'s detention, Eskenazi filed a report that included a physician's statement from Dr. Aimee Patel ("Dr. Patel"). In this statement, Dr. Patel alleged that C.N. needed to be committed to an appropriate facility because he was gravely disabled. Specifically, Dr. Patel alleged that C.N. was unable to provide for his food, clothing, shelter, or other essential human needs and had a substantial impairment that resulted in his inability to function independently. Dr. Patel also alleged that C.N. had "lost housing and employment due to symptoms." (App. Vol. 2 at 23).

         [¶5] At C.N.'s commitment hearing, Dr. Patel testified that she had examined C.N., and that although he had "historically carried a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder," Dr. Patel had "adjusted" his diagnosis to schizoaffective disorder. (Tr. 8). Dr. Patel further testified that C.N. was gravely disabled as demonstrated by his recent eviction from his housing. Dr. Patel also testified that C.N. was employed and that he was eating and taking care of his hygiene needs while at Eskenazi. In addition, Dr. Patel testified that C.N. was "convinced that he [was] a police officer, that he work[ed] for the FBI. That he ha[d] had involvement with the DEA." (Tr. 12). She also testified that C.N. had recently had weapons and a gas mask confiscated from his apartment. Dr. Patel recommended that C.N. be detained pursuant to a regular rather than a temporary commitment order. She also recommended that he be transferred to outpatient care when his condition stabilized and that he be ordered to take all medications as prescribed at that time. During cross-examination, Dr. Patel acknowledged that following his eviction, C.N. had moved in with his significant other.

         [¶6] Also at the hearing, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Behavioral Health Detective Lance Dardeen ("Detective Dardeen") testified that he had visited C.N. at home in December 2017. Although Detective Dardeen had not observed any weapons during the visit, the detective knew that a plastic hybrid BB gun had been removed from C.N.'s home earlier in December. During the twenty-minute visit, Detective Dardeen believed that C.N. had shown signs of mental illness such as disorganized thoughts and delusions. The detective opined that C.N.'s delusions would make him dangerous to the public. Detective Dardeen ...


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