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Justices accept parental-rights termination case

January 31, 2011

The Indiana Supreme Court has taken a Marion County case involving the termination of a mother’s parental rights in which the Indiana Court of Appeals took issue with several details in the case.

The appellate judges affirmed the termination of mother Z.G.’s rights to her daughter C.G. in Term. Of Parent-Child Rel. of C.G.; Z.G. v. I.D.C.S., No. 49S04-1101-JT-46, ruling her due process rights weren’t significantly comprised by her telephonic participation because she was represented by counsel, she testified at the hearing, and was able to authenticate exhibits her counsel sent her. But they noted several concerns, including that one Department of Child Services case manager’s affidavit of diligent inquiry filed when DCS sought to serve notice upon Z.G. by publication contained an inaccuracy. The case manager didn’t contact any family acquaintances as stated in the affidavit.

The DCS case manager also didn’t tell the mother that a child in need of services case was pending in his response letter to the mother, who wrote to the case manager in November 2008. She didn’t learn of the proceeding until she got an advisement or rights form and copy of the CHINS petition in a February 2009 letter.

The Court of Appeals judges were also troubled by the Marion Superior Court’s policy that juvenile prisoners cannot be within sight or hearing of adult prisoners, and the Juvenile Division lacks the facilities to separately house adult and juvenile offenders at the Juvenile Center. Z.G. had asked to appear in person at the termination and child in need of services proceedings in Marion Juvenile Court, but she was denied and she appeared by telephone.

The justices denied transfer to 12 other cases for the week ending Jan. 28.

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