COA affirms mom’s termination of rights despite ‘clean screen’ given to judge

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An Indianapolis mother with a history of drug abuse and domestic violence failed to persuade the Indiana Court of Appeals to reverse the termination of her parental rights, even though she introduced herself to the presiding judge after oral arguments and had a student deliver to the judge evidence of a clean drug screen taken a day earlier.

Judge Paul Mathias delivered the court opinion Tuesday in In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: A.D.S. & A.S. and L.S. v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, 49A02-1207-JT-604. The court affirmed termination of mother’s parental rights to her two children after a record of failed attempts at rehab, domestic offenses involving the children’s father and evidence that she threatened to physically harm herself.

The opinion includes a footnote indicating that mother L.S. traveled to hear oral arguments at Taylor University in Upland last month, introducing herself to Mathias afterward. “Later, Mother asked a student to deliver documentation of her ‘clean’ urine screen dated April 11, 2013, to Judge Mathias. Although the documentation was received, its receipt and surrounding circumstances were disclosed to counsel in a conference call the following business day, and the results were not considered in this opinion, as it was evidence outside the record.”

Mathias wrote for the court that the mother had tested negative for cocaine on recent screens, but also evaded screens and tested positive a week prior to her termination hearing and while her appeal was pending. The mother also had parental rights terminated previously for older children. The record also shows her children have thrived after placement outside mother’s home.

Mathias emphasized the trial court’s finding that mother had “failed to demonstrate the capacity to remain sober on a consistent and permanent basis.”

“For all these reasons, we conclude that the totality of the evidence supports the trial court’s determination that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in the children’s best interest.” Mathias wrote. “We conclude there was sufficient evidence that there is a reasonable probability that the reasons for the Children’s placement outside the home will not be remedied.”



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