ILNews

COA: Court lacked personal jurisdiction

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's denial of a biological mother's motion to set aside an adoption decree because the court lacked personal jurisdiction over her and her due process rights were violated.

In In the matter of the adoption of D.C.; H.R. v. R.C., No. 22A01-0709-CV-425, the appellate court ruled the adoptive mother, R.C., did not do everything she could to contact H.R., the biological mother, about R.C.'s petition to adopt D.C. R.C., who married D.C.'s biological father, argued that even though she hadn't complied with Indiana Trial Rules when sending H.R. notice of the adoption proceedings, H.R. is barred from challenging the adoption decree pursuant to Indiana Code Section 31-19-14-4.

The Court of Appeals found that Floyd Circuit Court lacked personal jurisdiction over H.R. in the case because R.C. didn't comply with Indiana Trial Rules, which require a service made to a person through the mail be accompanied by a return receipt showing receipt of the letter. H.R. never received R.C.'s certified mail regarding the adoption proceedings; she didn't find out about the adoption until nearly two years later.

The appellate court also ruled I.C. Section 31-19-14-4 creates an unconstitutional due process violation in this case because the biological mother had the right to make decisions regarding the custody of her child.

The court also questioned whether the Indiana General Assembly anticipated the scenario of this case when they enacted this section of the code because the plain language provides that a person whose parental rights are terminated may not file an untimely challenge to an adoption decree even if the putative father didn't receive notice or if the proceedings were in any other manner defective, wrote Judge Cale Bradford.

The Court of Appeals remanded the matter for a hearing on the merits of R.C.'s adoption petition.
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  1. Call it unauthorized law if you must, a regulatory wrong, but it was fraud and theft well beyond that, a seeming crime! "In three specific cases, the hearing officer found that Westerfield did little to no work for her clients but only issued a partial refund or no refund at all." That is theft by deception, folks. "In its decision to suspend Westerfield, the Supreme Court noted that she already had a long disciplinary history dating back to 1996 and had previously been suspended in 2004 and indefinitely suspended in 2005. She was reinstated in 2009 after finally giving the commission a response to the grievance for which she was suspended in 2004." WOW -- was the Indiana Supreme Court complicit in her fraud? Talk about being on notice of a real bad actor .... "Further, the justices noted that during her testimony, Westerfield was “disingenuous and evasive” about her relationship with Tope and attempted to distance herself from him. They also wrote that other aggravating factors existed in Westerfield’s case, such as her lack of remorse." WOW, and yet she only got 18 months on the bench, and if she shows up and cries for them in a year and a half, and pays money to JLAP for group therapy ... back in to ride roughshod over hapless clients (or are they "marks") once again! Aint Hoosier lawyering a great money making adventure!!! Just live for the bucks, even if filthy lucre, and come out a-ok. ME on the other hand??? Lifetime banishment for blowing the whistle on unconstitutional governance. Yes, had I ripped off clients or had ANY disciplinary history for doing that I would have fared better, most likely, as that it would have revealed me motivated by Mammon and not Faith. Check it out if you doubt my reading of this, compare and contrast the above 18 months with my lifetime banishment from court, see appendix for Bar Examiners report which the ISC adopted without substantive review: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS

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