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Appeals court reverses termination of father’s rights

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The Department of Child Services failed to prove that a father’s children were removed for cause required under state statute, and the trial court erred in terminating the parental rights of the Dearborn County man.

In Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of: Q.M. and E.M., Minor Children, B.M., Father v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services, 15A05-1112-JT-706, the court reversed Dearborn Circuit Judge James D. Humphrey’s order terminating the parental rights of B.M. to his children, ages 3 and 5.

Q.M. showed signs of abuse and, after a DCS investigation, both siblings were designated as children in need of services. B.M. later signed a Stipulation of CHINS agreement wherein he acknowledged that Q.M.’s injuries “would not have occurred but for the act or omission of a parent, custodian, or guardian.” He participated in counseling but failed to successfully complete court-ordered therapy and parenting evaluations. He demonstrated “extreme behavior” that was sanctioned by the court after his 2010 breakup with the children’s mother.

“For example, father sent 96 text messages and made numerous phone calls concerning mother and her whereabouts to the home-based counselor’s personal cell phone and home phone during a single weekend, causing the provider to feel threatened and to request no further work with father,” the court record says.

However, DCS terminated the father’s parental rights without required findings, Judge Elaine Brown wrote in a unanimous opinion.

“An involuntary termination petition must allege, and the state must prove by clear and convincing evidence, that the child was either removed from the parent for at least six months under a dispositional decree or removed from the family home at least fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months ‘at the time the involuntary termination petition was filed,’” Brown wrote.

“Based on the foregoing, it is clear that DCDCS (Dearborn County Indiana Dept. of Child Services) failed to satisfy the mandates of Ind. Code § 31-35-2-4(b)(2)(A). Thus, the trial court committed reversible error in granting DCDCS’s involuntary termination petitions. …  The trial court’s judgment terminating Father’s parental rights to Q.M. and E.M. must be reversed.”

Brown closed with a footnote: “Our decision today should not be construed as a negative comment upon the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the trial court’s specific findings or ultimate decision to terminate father’s parental rights. Moreover, in reaching this decision, we are keenly aware of the fact that both Q.M.’s and E.M.’s sense of permanency and well-being hangs in the balance. Further delay in the final resolution of the children’s cases is most certainly regrettable, but the court is bound by statute to ensure the process.”  



 

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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