ILNews

COA finds fundamental error in juvenile case, again

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In a case identical to one it ruled on earlier this year, the Indiana Court of Appeals today found the state violated a juvenile’s right to counsel at her detention hearing.

Juvenile A.S. was detained in October 2008 on suspicion of battery. At her detention hearing the next day, no witnesses were sworn in and no evidence was heard. She and her mother signed a document that the trial court apparently treated as a waiver to a number of rights, including A.S.’s right to counsel. The magistrate never asked if A.S. wanted legal representation or counsel appointed, nor did the magistrate inform her of the burdens of proceeding pro se.

A.S. had been in trouble before and at that time, she and her mother signed the same waiver. In A.S. v. State, 923 N.E.2d 486, 488 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010), the appellate court ruled A.S.’s alleged waiver of counsel was invalid. She had moved for relief from judgment finding her to be delinquent because she had been adjudicated without counsel and without waiving her right to counsel.

The Court of Appeals found the latest waiver A.S. signed also didn’t comport with constitutional requirements. A.S. was appealing in the instant case that she was denied certain rights at her initial detention hearing, she shouldn’t have been adjudicated as a delinquent because her hearing didn’t take place within 60 days, and she wasn’t tried by a jury.

The state argued against the appellate court addressing the merits of the violation because A.S. didn’t raise the claim and it’s moot because she’s no longer detained.  

The Court of Appeals in A.S. v. State of Indiana, No. 10A01-0908-JV-423, ruled A.S.’s constitutional claim wasn’t waived due to fundamental error because she was not adequately informed of her right to counsel. The appellate judges decided to consider A.S.’s constitutional right because it reflects a question of great public importance and the issue is likely to recur. They found her initial detention was improper because the court didn’t get a constitutionally sufficient waiver of counsel from her and didn’t allow her to present evidence or confront witnesses.

The judges rejected her argument that her hearing didn’t happen within the required 60 days. Her hearing happened 90 days after she was initially detained. Every Saturday, Sunday, and holiday during that period should be excluded from calculation, which then puts A.S.’s hearing held within the 60-day period. In addition, A.S. did not have a right to trial by jury.
 

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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