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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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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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