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Justices consider juvenile placements

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

The Indiana Supreme Court is considering a case where a St. Joseph County juvenile judge has declared unconstitutional three statutes involving child placements, a controversial issue that’s pitted many within the state judiciary against the Indiana Department of Child Services for the past two years.

With jurisdiction in The Matter of A.B., a Child Alleged to be a Delinquent, No. 71S00-1002-JV-00156, the state justices are asked to review the topic that first surfaced with last-minute legislative changes during the General Assembly’s special session in 2009. Lawmakers amended Indiana Code §31-37-19-3(f) to require DCS recommendation or approval for any out-of-state placement, or else the county must pay for that placement. The change came after the Indiana Supreme Court in April ruled against the state agency and gave more deference to juvenile judges in making placement decisions when there’s a dispute about who should pay. Taking its case directly to the General Assembly, the DCS asked lawmakers to tweak state statute and give it more control. Juvenile judges and many lawmakers were surprised about the change that came without public discussion, although attempts to repeal those statutes failed in the years since.

But St. Joseph Probate Judge Peter Nemeth – an outspoken advocate against the policy change – ruled in February on a juvenile delinquent case that the statutes are unconstitutional. The case involves a teenager who was originally placed in a South Bend facility, but escaped last year and was subsequently ordered for placement in Arizona. The DCS objected to that out-of-state placement decision by Judge Nemeth, and filed an appeal that fell under Appellate Rule 4(A)(1)(b) giving the high court exclusive jurisdiction over cases where statutes are deemed unconstitutional.

Specifically, the questions raised in the suit are: Does Article 3, Section 1 of the Indiana Constitution permit the General Assembly to require that courts get approval from the DCS for out-of-state placements?; whether the single-subject requirement of Article 4, Section 19 permits lawmakers from including the juvenile placement decision-making changes in a massive budget bill; and whether the DCS in-state placement recommendation in this case of A.B. was unreasonable based on the facts.

Briefs are being submitted in that case, and the local probation department has until Aug. 13 to file a response. The state agency filed a motion to dismiss in late June, but the justices hadn’t issued a decision on that by IL deadline.

Rehearing from "Bill seeks to repeal placement statute" IL Jan. 20-Feb. 2, 2010

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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