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COA affirms perjury, misconduct convictions against children's caseworker

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that that a closed hearing on a juvenile proceeding was admissible as evidence in the perjury trial of an Indiana Department of Child Services caseworker.

In Gayle D. Edelen v. State of Indiana, No.26A01-1007-CR-362, Gayle Edelen claimed that her testimony in a closed juvenile proceeding should have been confidential. But the appeals court – citing Indiana Code sections 31-39-1-1(a)(1) and -2 – ruled that the testimony was admissible in Edelen’s perjury trial because it involved an adult charged with a crime.

Gibson Circuit Judge Jeffrey Meade ordered the closed hearing in November 2008 after attorney Lisa Moody filed a motion with his court for a change in placement for her client, M.D., a minor. Moody informed the court that after M.D. fled Life Choices, a placement facility in Evansville, she had been held for one month without a hearing at Southwest Indiana Regional Youth Village of Vincennes (SIRYV), an emergency shelter. Judge Meade had ordered that M.D. should be taken to SIRYV when she was found, but his policy – consistent with Indiana Code Section 31-34-5-1 – was that M.D. should not be held more than 48 hours without a hearing.

Local law enforcement had found M.D. on October 9, 2008, and taken her to SIRYV. On October 17, Edelen asked fellow caseworker Amy Ellis to check on M.D., which she did. M.D. repeatedly asked Ellis the date of the next scheduled hearing, and Ellis told her she would check with Edelen. On November 5, M.D. contacted Moody to tell her she was still being held at SIRYV.

In the closed hearing, Moody asked Edelen if she had ever informed the court that M.D. had been found. Edelen said that she had told Judge Meade on October 9 when he was walking out of chambers – a claim the judge would later contradict during Edelen’s jury trial.

The Indiana Office of the Inspector General launched an investigation of M.D.’s 30-day stay at the emergency shelter. As a result of the investigation, the state filed information against Edelen in Gibson Superior Court, alleging that she had committed three acts of perjury at the November 2008 hearing and an additional act of official misconduct for committing her alleged perjury while testifying in her official capacity.

During her jury trial in June 2010, Judge Meade said Edelen had never informed him M.D. had been found after fleeing Life Choices. He also expressly contradicted her testimony on two other occasions.

The Court of Appeals also cited Indiana Code Section 35-44-1-2(1) in affirming Edelen’s conviction for misconduct, stating she knowingly made a false statement under oath.
 

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  • Question
    I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

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