ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT:
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE:
L. ROSS ROWLAND
MARK L. ABRELL
DAVID J. KARNES
Dennis, Wenger & Abrell, PC
COURT OF APPEALS OF INDIANA
IN THE MATTER OF THE COMMITMENT
OF RUSTY BRADBURY,
COMPREHENSIVE MENTAL HEALTH
APPEAL FROM THE DELAWARE CIRCUIT COURT
The Honorable Robert L. Barnet, Judge
The Honorable Joseph M. Speece, Master Commissioner
Cause No. 18C03-0505-MH-165
April 17, 2006
OPINION - FOR PUBLICATION
KIRSCH, Chief Judge
Rusty Bradbury appeals from the trial court’s order involuntarily committing him
temporarily to a mental institution. 1 He raises one issue, which we restate as whether
sufficient evidence supported the involuntary commitment order.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Bradbury suffers from bipolar disorder, a condition that falls within the term
“mental illness” under IC 12-7-2-130. On May 28, 2005, an officer with the Muncie
Police Department took Bradbury to the emergency room at Ball Memorial Hospital for
an emergency detention after finding him on the streets talking loudly and acting
Danette Baird, a therapist for Comprehensive Mental Health Services
(“CMHS”), initially evaluated Bradbury. Baird found him highly agitated and appearing
to be delusional. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Taryn Papandria also evaluated Bradbury. Dr.
Papandria determined that Bradbury was feeling manic and that he was combative,
aggressive, and physically threatening. Dr. Papandria also discovered that Bradbury had
taken himself off his medication.
On May 31, Dr. Amy Metzger, a licensed psychiatrist, further evaluated Bradbury.
She confirmed Bradbury’s bipolar condition and found that, while off his medication,
Bradbury exhibited aggressive, agitated, and impulsive behavior. CMHS then filed an
Because Bradbury was committed for ninety days or less, the commitment from which he
appeals has ended. Ordinarily this matter would then be moot. While we generally dismiss cases that are
deemed moot, such cases may be decided on their merits where they involve questions of great public
interest that are likely to recur. See Golub v. Giles, 814 N.E.2d 1034, 1036 n.1 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004),
trans. denied. The question of how persons subject to involuntary commitment are treated by our trial
courts is one of great importance to society. Id. Therefore we will address Bradbury’s claim.
Application for Emergency Detention with the Delaware Circuit Court. The trial court
set a hearing to determine whether to involuntarily commit Bradbury.
At the hearing, Baird and Dr. Metzger both testified concerning their earlier
evaluations. Dr. Metzger testified that Bradbury suffered from bipolar disorder and was
Initially, Dr. Metzger found that Bradbury exhibited
disorganized, aggressive, agitated, and delusional behavior. Id. She further found that
Bradbury hardly slept and required seclusion to protect others from his behavior. Id. Dr.
Metzger explained that, between episodes of mania, bipolar patients will generally do
fine, so despite his improvement since his initial detention, she still considered Bradbury
gravely disabled. Id. at 7-8. Because of Bradbury’s past failure to stay on his medication
and his initial refusal of medication after his emergency detention, Dr. Metzger was
concerned that if he were not committed, Bradbury’s mental health would deteriorate
further. Id. at 8, 10.
In issuing its Order of Temporary Commitment, the trial court found that (1)
Bradbury was mentally ill, as defined under IC 12-7-2-130, and (2) that he was gravely
disabled as defined under IC 12-7-2-96.
Appellant’s App. at 17.
The trial court
determined that Bradbury would be committed for ninety days or less to Ball Memorial
Hospital and, if he was released from the hospital during this period, he must accept
outpatient treatment from CMHS that included medication. Id. Bradbury now appeals.
DISCUSSION AND DECISION
IC 12-26-6-1 allows a court to order an individual’s temporary commitment that
continues for up to ninety days if the petitioner proves by clear and convincing evidence
that the individual is mentally ill and either “dangerous” or “gravely disabled.” Civil
commitment is a significant deprivation of liberty that requires the petitioner to show
“that the individual suffers from something more serious than is demonstrated by
idiosyncratic behavior.” Addington v. Texas, 441 U.S. 418, 427, 99 S. Ct. 1804, 1810, L.
Ed. 2d 323, 331 (1979). When we review an order for commitment, we consider only
the evidence favorable to the judgment and all reasonable inferences therefrom. M.Z. v.
Clarian Health Partners, 829 N.E.2d 634, 637 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), trans. denied. We
will not reweigh the evidence or judge the witnesses’ credibility. Golub, 814 N.E.2d at
1038. “Where the evidence is in conflict, we are bound to view only that evidence that is
most favorable to the trial court’s judgment.” Id. If the trial court’s commitment order
represents a conclusion that a reasonable person could have drawn, the order must be
affirmed, even if other reasonable conclusions are possible. Id.
Bradbury contends that the trial court lacked sufficient evidence to find him
gravely disabled. IC 12-7-2-96 defines “gravely disabled” 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
Specifically, Bradbury contends that Dr. Metzger relied too heavily on evidence of
Bradbury’s past problems and failed to sufficiently apply the current indicia of
Bradbury’s current mental state. However, in her testimony, Dr. Metzger presented six
current factors that indicated Bradbury was gravely disabled at the time of the hearing.
Dr. Metzger found that Bradbury exhibited disorganized, aggressive, agitated, and
delusional behavior. Tr. at 7. She further found that Bradbury hardly slept and required
seclusion to protect others from his behavior. Id.
Dr. Metzger testified that Bradbury’s symptoms resulted from his current failure
to take his medication. Id. at 10. Although Dr. Metzger stated that Bradbury was “doing
better” than when he was first detained, she believed that he was still gravely disabled.
Id. at 7.
She described Bradbury’s present condition as the typical temporary
improvement that exists between episodes of mania. Id. at 7.
Essentially, Bradbury asks us to reweigh the evidence presented at his
commitment hearing. This we cannot do. We may not reweigh evidence in reviewing a
challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence with respect to commitment proceedings.
M.Z., 829 N.E.2d at 637.
After hearing testimony from Dr. Metzger, Baird, and
Bradbury, the trial court found that Bradbury was gravely disabled. The trial court’s
commitment order represents a conclusion that a reasonable person could have drawn and
was sufficiently supported by clear and convincing evidence.
SULLIVAN, J., and DARDEN, J., concur.