27 N.E.3d 271 (Ind. 2015), 49S02-1503-MH-138, T.K. v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs

Docket Nº49S02-1503-MH-138
Citation27 N.E.3d 271
Opinion JudgeDickson, Justice.
Party NameIN THE MATTER OF THE CIVIL COMMITMENT OF T.K., Appellant (Respondent), v. DEP'T OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, Appellee (Petitioner)
AttorneyATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Joel M. Schumm, Indianapolis, Indiana; Ruth A. Johnson, Marion County Public Defender Agency, Indianapolis, Indiana. ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: Chadwick C. Duran, U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Judge PanelDickson, Justice. Rush, C.J., and Rucker, David, Massa, JJ., concur. Rush, C.J., and Rucker, David, Massa, JJ., concur.
Case DateMarch 19, 2015
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Page 271

27 N.E.3d 271 (Ind. 2015)

IN THE MATTER OF THE CIVIL COMMITMENT OF T.K., Appellant (Respondent),

v.

DEP'T OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, Appellee (Petitioner)

No. 49S02-1503-MH-138

Supreme Court of Indiana

March 19, 2015

Page 272

Appeal from the Marion Superior Court, No. 49D08-9906-MH-582. The Honorable Gerald Zore, Judge.

On Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 49A02-1310-MH-878.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Joel M. Schumm, Indianapolis, Indiana; Ruth A. Johnson, Marion County Public Defender Agency, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: Chadwick C. Duran, U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Dickson, Justice. Rush, C.J., and Rucker, David, Massa, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 273

Dickson, Justice.

T.K. challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his involuntary civil commitment. He was committed following a hearing on October 18, 2013. To obtain an involuntary regular1 commitment of an individual, a " petitioner is required to prove by clear and convincing evidence that: (1) the individual is mentally ill and either dangerous or gravely disabled; and (2) detention or commitment of that individual is appropriate." Ind. Code § 12-26-2-5(e) (2012). The trial court's order of commitment declared that, by clear and convincing evidence, T.K. was mentally ill and both dangerous and gravely disabled. The Court of Appeals affirmed in a memorandum decision. In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of T.K., No. 49A02-1310-MH-878, 3 N.E.3d 1090 (Ind.Ct.App. Jan. 30, 2014) (table), clarified on reh'g, 10 N.E.3d 100 (Ind.Ct.App. Apr. 3, 2014) (table). We now grant transfer and reverse.

On appeal, T.K. does not challenge the finding of his mental illness, but he contends that neither of the necessary alternative elements, " dangerous" or " gravely disabled," were proven by clear and convincing evidence. The Petitioner disagrees and argues to the contrary.

" [T]he purpose of civil commitment proceedings is dual: to protect the public and to ensure the rights of the person whose liberty is at stake." In re Commitment of Roberts, 723 N.E.2d 474, 476 (Ind.Ct.App. 2000), trans. not sought. The liberty interest at stake in a civil commitment proceeding goes beyond a loss of one's physical freedom, and given the serious stigma and adverse social consequences that accompany such physical confinement, a proceeding for an involuntary civil commitment is subject to due process requirements. See Addington v. Texas, 441 U.S. 418, 425--26, 99 S.Ct. 1804, 60 L.Ed.2d 323 (1979). To satisfy the requirements of due process, the facts justifying an involuntary commitment must be shown " by clear and convincing evidence . . . . [which] not only communicates the relative importance our legal system attaches to a decision ordering an involuntary commitment, but . . . also has the function of reducing the chance of inappropriate commitments." Commitment of J.B. v. Midtown Mental Health Ctr., 581 N.E.2d 448, 450 (Ind.Ct.App. 1991) (citations omitted), trans. denied.

In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence supporting a determination made under the statutory requirement of clear and convincing evidence, an appellate court will affirm if, " considering only the probative evidence and the reasonable inferences supporting it, without weighing evidence or assessing witness credibility, a reasonable trier of fact could find [the necessary elements] proven by clear and convincing evidence." Bud Wolf Chevrolet, Inc. v. Robertson, 519 N.E.2d 135, 137 (Ind. 1988). This appellate standard of review applies in civil commitment decisions. See GPH v. Giles, 578 N.E.2d 729, 732--33 (Ind.Ct.App. 1991) (" In reviewing a claim of

Page 274

insufficient evidence in a commitment case, we keep in mind that commitment may be ordered only if the elements upon which the commitment is ordered are proven by clear and convincing evidence, and we consider only that evidence most favorable to the judgment, along with all favorable inferences therefrom." ), trans. denied ; Jones v. State, 477 N.E.2d 353, 360 (Ind.Ct.App. 1985) (" In reviewing a claim of insufficient evidence, we consider only that evidence most favorable to the judgment along with all favorable inferences therefrom, yet keep in mind that commitment may be ordered only upon a finding of clear and convincing evidence." ), trans. denied; see also Cheek v. State, 567 N.E.2d 1192, 1196 (Ind.Ct.App. 1991) (citing Jones), trans. not sought.

Several recent decisions of the Court of Appeals, however, while perhaps reciting the phrase " clear and convincing," have not applied this standard of proof in their analysis but rather have affirmed civil commitment orders merely if such an order " represents a conclusion that a reasonable person could have drawn, even if other reasonable conclusions are possible." M.L. v. Meridian Servs., Inc., 956 N.E.2d 752, 755 (Ind.Ct.App. 2011), trans. not sought; see also, S.T. v. Cmty. Hosp. N., 930 N.E.2d 684, 688 (Ind.Ct.App. 2010), trans. not sought ;

K.F. v. St. Vincent Hosp. & Health Care Ctr., 909 N.E.2d 1063, 1066 (Ind.Ct.App. 2009), trans. not sought ;

J.S. v. Ctr. for Behavioral Health, 846 N.E.2d 1106, 1111 (Ind.Ct.App. 2006), trans. denied. We disapprove of this line of cases.

The issue presented in this case is whether, considering the probative evidence and reasonable inferences favorable to judgment, the trial judge could have found by clear and convincing evidence that T.K. was either dangerous or gravely disabled. " Dangerous" is " a condition in which an individual as a result of mental illness, presents a substantial risk that the individual will harm the individual or others." Ind. Code § 12-7-2-53 (2012). " Gravely disabled" is defined as:

a condition in which an individual, as a result of mental illness, is in danger of coming to harm because the individual:

(1) is unable to provide for that individual's food, clothing, shelter, or other essential human needs; or (2) has a substantial impairment or an obvious deterioration of that individual's judgment, reasoning, or behavior that results in the individual's inability to function independently.

Ind. Code § 12-7-2-96 (2012).

Before the trial court, the Department of Veterans Affairs, as petitioner, presented only one item of evidence, the testimony of Dr. Joseph Bishara, a resident in psychiatry at the hospital where T.K. was admitted on an emergency detention. Dr. Bishara testified that T.K. came to him with " Chronic Paranoid Schizophrenia" and " Paranoid Personality Disorder." Tr. at 6. T.K. does not challenge either of these diagnoses on appeal. Regarding whether T.K. was either dangerous or gravely disabled, Dr. Bishara testified that T.K. is " paranoid over a wide range of . . . institutions as persecuting him, and targeting him," id. at 12, and that the main reason he was brought in on an emergency detention was that " he put flyers on people's windshields of somebody's criminal record which he wished to . . . hurt . . . or aggravate this person . . . to shame this person . . . [a]nd, then went into the Adult and Child Clinic, and started to scream at the staff in a manner that made them concerned." Id. at 5--6. Dr. Bishara also testified that T.K. was skeptical of the pharmaceutical industry as well as psychiatrists and hospitals, which T.K. feels are co-conspirators in " diagnosing . . . extra

Page 275

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  • 40 N.E.3d 507 (Ind.App. 2015), 49A05-1411-MH-529, T.D. v. Eskenazi Health Midtown Cmty. Mental Health Ctr.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • July 20, 2015
    ...physical confinement, a proceeding for an involuntary civil commitment is subject to due process requirements. Civil Commitment of T.K., 27 N.E.3d at 273. [¶9] To satisfy the requirements of due process, the facts justifying an involuntary commitment must be shown by clear and convincing ev......
  • In re Civil Commitment of T.D., 072015 INCA, 49A05-1411-MH-529
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • July 20, 2015
    ...physical confinement, a proceeding for an involuntary civil commitment is subject to due process requirements. Civil Commitment of T.K., 27 N.E.3d at 273. [9] To satisfy the requirements of due process, the facts justifying an involuntary commitment must be shown by clear and convincing evi......
  • In re Civil Commitment of A.M., 121318 INCA, 18A-MH-636
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 13, 2018
    ...the function of reducing the chance of inappropriate commitments. Civil Commitment of T.K. v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 27 N.E.3d 271, 273 (Ind. 2015) (internal citations and quotations omitted). [¶20] The Hospital was required to prove by clear and convincing ......
  • 64 N.E.3d 855 (Ind.App. 2016), 27A02-1605-MH-987, M.E. v. Department of Veterans Affairs
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 23, 2016
    ...[the necessary elements] proven by clear and convincing evidence.'" Civil Commitment of T.K. v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 27 N.E.3d 271, 273 (Ind. 2015) (quoting Bud Wolf Chevrolet, Inc. v. Robertson, 519 N.E.2d 135, 137 (Ind.1988)). [¶26] Indiana Code section......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
82 cases
  • 40 N.E.3d 507 (Ind.App. 2015), 49A05-1411-MH-529, T.D. v. Eskenazi Health Midtown Cmty. Mental Health Ctr.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • July 20, 2015
    ...physical confinement, a proceeding for an involuntary civil commitment is subject to due process requirements. Civil Commitment of T.K., 27 N.E.3d at 273. [¶9] To satisfy the requirements of due process, the facts justifying an involuntary commitment must be shown by clear and convincing ev......
  • In re Civil Commitment of T.D., 072015 INCA, 49A05-1411-MH-529
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • July 20, 2015
    ...physical confinement, a proceeding for an involuntary civil commitment is subject to due process requirements. Civil Commitment of T.K., 27 N.E.3d at 273. [9] To satisfy the requirements of due process, the facts justifying an involuntary commitment must be shown by clear and convincing evi......
  • In re Civil Commitment of A.M., 121318 INCA, 18A-MH-636
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 13, 2018
    ...the function of reducing the chance of inappropriate commitments. Civil Commitment of T.K. v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 27 N.E.3d 271, 273 (Ind. 2015) (internal citations and quotations omitted). [¶20] The Hospital was required to prove by clear and convincing ......
  • 64 N.E.3d 855 (Ind.App. 2016), 27A02-1605-MH-987, M.E. v. Department of Veterans Affairs
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 23, 2016
    ...[the necessary elements] proven by clear and convincing evidence.'" Civil Commitment of T.K. v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 27 N.E.3d 271, 273 (Ind. 2015) (quoting Bud Wolf Chevrolet, Inc. v. Robertson, 519 N.E.2d 135, 137 (Ind.1988)). [¶26] Indiana Code section......
  • Request a trial to view additional results