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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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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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