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Judges reverse CHINS determination

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the determination that a brother and sister are children in need of services, finding there was “simply no evidence” to support the finding.

In In Re the Matter of: B.N. and H.C., Children in Need of Services; M.C. v. Marion Co. Dept. of Child Services and Child Advocates, Inc., No. 49A02-1110-JC-1025, mother M.C. challenged the finding that her children B.N. and H.C. are in need of services. After being stopped by police in May 2011, police found oxycodone, Xanax and marijuana in M.C.’s car. Her son B.N. was in the backseat. Her driver’s license was suspended at the time. She was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana. The Department of Child Services took custody of her two children and later filed a petition that they were CHINS under Indiana Code 31-34-1-1, which says that a child is a CHINS if the “child’s physical or mental condition is seriously impaired or seriously endangered as a result of the inability, refusal, or neglect of the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, or supervision.”

M.C. complied with voluntary drug screenings – testing negative each time – and presented current prescriptions to DCS for the oxycodone and Xanax, although she did not have a valid prescription for Xanax when she was arrested. DCS had been involved with M.C. and her oldest child several years prior based on claims of domestic violence committed by the children’s father. M.C. now has a protective order against the father.

The DCS case manager testified and the court found the children to be CHINS.

The Court of Appeals found the juvenile court’s findings that M.C. didn’t have a valid prescription for the oxycodone when she was arrested and hasn’t proven she is employed weren’t supported by the evidence. At the CHINS hearing, M.C. provided her valid prescription for oxycodone, and the case manager testified that M.C. provided her a letter showing she was employed.

The judges found that although M.C. was charged with possession of marijuana and admitted to using it in the past, she tested negative at each screening, had valid prescriptions for the oxycodone and wasn’t charged with any crime relating to the Xanax possession. She volunteered to participate in services; they weren’t mandatory per DCS and there is no evidence that her suspended license affects the condition of the children, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik. There is no evidence that the children’s physical or mental conditions were seriously impaired or endangered by their mother.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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