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In re Civil Commitment of B.N.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 20, 2019

In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of B.N.; B.N., Appellant-Respondent,
Community Health Network, Inc., Appellee-Petitioner.

          Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Kelly Scanlan, Judge Pro Tempore Trial Court Cause No. 49D08-1904-MH-13007

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Megan Shipley Marion County Public Defender's Agency Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Jenny R. Buchheit Stephen E. Reynolds Sean T. Dewey Ice Miller LLP Indianapolis, Indiana

          PYLE, JUDGE

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] B.N. ("B.N.") appeals the trial court's order for his involuntary temporary commitment[1] to Community Health Network, Inc. ("the Hospital") for a period not to exceed ninety days. B.N. argues that the trial court violated his due process right of having the Hospital meet its burden of proving the elements of the involuntary commitment by clear and convincing evidence. Specifically, he contends that the trial court violated this due process right when it ordered him to an involuntary temporary commitment based in part on his own testimony given during the commitment hearing. He also argues that the Hospital did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that the commitment was appropriate. Concluding that there was no due process violation and that B.N.'s sufficiency argument is nothing more than a request to reweigh the evidence, we affirm the trial court's involuntary temporary commitment order.

         [¶2] We affirm.


         Whether the trial court's order for an involuntary commitment complied with B.N.'s due process right and is supported by sufficient evidence.


         [¶3] On March 28, 2019, sixty-two-year-old B.N. was admitted to the Hospital through its crisis department and was examined by psychiatrist Dr. Syed Hasan ("Dr. Hasan"). Thereafter, Dr. Hasan, on behalf of the Hospital, filed an application for the emergency detention of B.N. The Hospital alleged that B.N. was suffering from a psychiatric disorder and was both gravely disabled and dangerous to himself and others. The application indicated that B.N. had been "agitated, delusional, paranoid, not sleeping, report[ing] God is speaking to him[, ]" had been "refusing medication" and had "poor insight and poor judgment[.]" (App. Vol. 2 at 10, 11). The application also indicated that B.N. had suicidal ideation.

         [¶4] A few days later, Dr. Hasan filed a Report Following Emergency Detention, requesting the trial court to order B.N. to be involuntary committed to the Hospital on a temporary basis. Dr. Hasan indicated that B.N. was suffering from a delusional disorder and schizophrenia and that he was dangerous and gravely disabled. More specifically, Dr. Hasan reported that B.N. had poor insight, did not believe that he had a mental illness, and had been refusing treatment.

         [¶5] On April 9, 2019, the trial court held a commitment hearing. In support of its involuntary temporary commitment request, the Hospital presented testimony from Dr. Hasan; B.N. stipulated that the doctor was an expert in psychiatry. Dr. Hasan testified that he had examined B.N. four times during his hospital admission, including on the day of the hearing, and he had diagnosed B.N. with delusional disorder and schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. The doctor also testified that B.N. had a history of mental illness and that he had had a prior hospitalization in Ohio and had received treatment at Gallahue. Dr. Hasan testified that, at the time of B.N.'s emergency admission, B.N. "had been increasingly paranoid and [had been] exhibiting erratic and dangerous behavior." (Tr. Vol. 2 at 6). Additionally, B.N. had not been sleeping or eating and had not been receiving treatment. However, B.N. did report to Dr. Hasan that he had been in the process of getting established at the VA hospital for psychiatric treatment.

         [¶6] Dr. Hasan testified that B.N. did not have insight into his illness when he was not taking medication and that, based on B.N.'s history, there was a risk that B.N. was dangerous to others. According to Dr. Hasan, B.N. had been "very religiously preoccupied[, ]" believing that God was speaking to him, "thinking that he [wa]s doing the work of God - missionary work[, ]" and "need[ing] to get churches." (Tr. Vol. 2 at 7). On one occasion, which was at the time of "the New Zealand shooting incident in the mosque[, ]" B.N. had "parked a car in front of [a] church so people could not come out of the front door[, ]" and the police were called to the scene. (Tr. Vol. 2 at 8). According to Dr. Hasan, B.N. had had "several instances where he ha[d] been involved with the police department filing complaints[, ] and [he] then believe[d] that there [wa]s a conspiracy going on against him." (Tr. Vol. 2 at 7). Dr. Hasan testified that, in addition to B.N.'s "encounters with the police department" and the "incident at the church[, ]" he was also concerned about B.N.'s "hyper focus on people in higher positions abusing power and then acting in a way that c[ould] be dangerous." (Tr. Vol. 2 at 11). In 2015, B.N. had complained about the mayor and the abuse of power, and he sent the mayor emails that were "perceived maybe as an indirect threat." (Tr. Vol. 2 at 11). Dr. Hasan further testified that, during B.N.'s hospitalization, he had been "very paranoid with the staff members[, ]" thinking that they had "a conspiracy against him[.]" (Tr. Vol. 2 at 9). Additionally, B.N. had not followed directions from the staff and had become "extremely agitated" to the point where he had hit a nurse. (Tr. Vol. 2 at 9).

         [¶7] Dr. Hasan also testified that B.N. was gravely disabled and had an "impaired ability to function independently." (Tr. Vol. 2 at 9). The doctor explained that B.N. had been "disorganized and erratic and dangerous" when he was first admitted and that he had been unable to work because he had been "doing work for God[.]" (Tr. Vol. 2 at 9). Dr. Hasan testified that when B.N. became paranoid and delusional, his ability to follow directions and to trust people became compromised.

         [¶8] Dr. Hasan further testified that his treatment plan for B.N. included continued in-patient treatment, two injections of an anti-psychotic medication, and then a transition to outpatient services within one week. The doctor also testified that B.N. had initially indicated that he would refuse to take any medications without a court order but that he then had begun to take the medication, which had yielded "some improvement[.]" (Tr. Vol. 2 at 12). Dr. Hasan explained that an involuntary temporary commitment was recommended to improve B.N.'s condition and to stabilize his medication before moving him to outpatient treatment. According to Dr. Hasan, the prescribed medications and treatment plan would help to treat B.N.'s mental illness. He also testified that, with treatment, B.N.'s prognosis was "fair" and that, without treatment, his prognosis was "poor." (Tr. Vol. 2 at 13). Additionally, Dr. Hasan ...

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