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COA reverses involuntary termination order for a second time

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The Indiana Court of Appeals sharply rebuked a trial court as having “committed clear error” by relying on old evidence and testimony in terminating a Vanderburgh County couple’s parental rights.

In July 2011, the trial court issued an order granting termination petitions filed by the Indiana Department of Child Services. However, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for further proceedings because the four minor children had not been removed from the parents for at least six months under a dispositional decree as required by Indiana Code 31-35-2-4(b)(2)(A)(i).

DCS filed a second petition in May 2012. Over the objection of the parents, the trial court admitted the transcript and exhibits of the previous termination hearing. Again, the lower court terminated the parent-child relationship.

The Court of Appeals reversed the second termination order in In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: N.Q., Je.Q., Ja.Q., L.Q., Minor Children, T.Q., Mother, and A.Q., Father v. Indiana Department of Child Services, 82A04-1301-JT-42.

It faulted the trial court’s ruling as based primarily on the evidence presented at the first termination hearing even when the findings were directly contradicted by the parents and not refuted by DCS at the second termination hearing.  

 “Moreover, it was error for the court to issue its order which did not adequately consider the evidence presented by Parents of their current conditions, including Parents’ new income and their ability to keep current on their bills and maintain a clean residence,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the court. “Indeed, the court also failed to consider the lack of evidence to the contrary presented by DCS, despite the fact that it was DCS’s burden to prove its case by a heightened ‘clear and convincing’ standard.”

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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