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COA: Parental rights should be ended

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's decision to continue the parental rights of two incarcerated parents, finding it to be in the child's best interest to sever the rights because the parents possibly won't be released from prison for two more years.

In In Re: The termination of the parent-child relationship of J.M.; Daniel G. Pappas, guardian ad litem v. A.S., mother, A.M., alleged father, and the Allen County Department of Child Services, No. 02A05-0807-JV-416, Daniel Pappas, as guardian ad litem for J.M., appealed the trial court's denial of the Allen County Office of Family and Children's petition to terminate A.S. and A.M.'s parental rights. Both had been incarcerated on drug charges since 2004, when J.M. was nearly 4 years old. J.M. had bounced around between family members and foster care and has remained in foster care since January 2006.

The trial court denied the petition to terminate parental rights, citing Rowlett v. Vanderburgh County Office of Family and Children, 841 N.E.2d 615 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006), in which a father's parental rights weren't terminated because he would be getting out of prison in six weeks, had secured housing and a job, and the children would continue to live with their grandparents until he was able to care for them. The trial court in the instant case found the J.M.'s parents' release dates to be "soon" and that they had completed many required services under the dispositional decree while incarcerated.

But Rowlett is different from the instant case, wrote Judge Carr Darden. J.M.'s mother's earliest release date is April 2009 if she completes college courses; his father's current release date is January 2010. Neither has shown they have secured employment or housing once they are released, wrote the judge. As a result of the trial court's ruling, J.M. would have to remain in foster care for two more years, or possibly longer until his parents could secure a job and home.

The Allen County Office of Family and Children presented clear and convincing evidence A.S. and A.M. are unable to provide a safe and stable environment for J.M. and that it is in his best interest the parental rights are terminated, wrote Judge Darden. J.M. hasn't seen his parents since 2005 and only communicates with his mother through an occasional letter or phone call.

The appellate court remanded to the trial court with instructions to enter an order terminating A.S. and A.M.'s parental rights.

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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