COA upholds termination of parental rights

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of a mother and father's parental rights based on sufficient evidence. The appellate court also found the mother couldn't appeal on the basis that the Department of Child Services failed to prove her drug use when she repeatedly refused to submit to drug testing.

Mother D.B. and father B.B. appealed the termination of their parental rights to their daughter, A.B. The girl tested positive for cocaine after birth; her mother admitted to using the drug five days before birth. Mother admitted to the child in need of services petition, but father declined to appear in court because he had outstanding warrants. A default hearing with respect to him was later conducted, during which the court found A.B. was a CHINS.

A.B. was removed from the home and both parents were ordered to comply with certain services, counseling, and testing. Mother repeatedly refused to submit to drug testing. The trial court granted DCS' petition to terminate both parent's rights.

In In the matter of the involuntary termination of the parent-child relationship of A.B.; D.B., B.B. v. Marion County Dept. of Child Services and Child Advocates, No. 49A02-0908-JV-710, mother challenged the trial court's findings that the conditions that led to A.B.'s removal won't be remedied. A.B. was removed because of mother's drug use. The appellate court rejected her argument that DCS lacked documentary evidence that she ever failed any drug test.

"A parent whose drug use led to a child's removal cannot be permitted to refuse to submit to drug testing, then later claim the DCS has failed to prove that the drug use has continued. Mother cannot and should not prevail with such a circular and cynical argument," wrote Judge Michael Barnes.

Father argued that DCS failed to prove A.B. was removed from his care for at least six months under the dispositional decree at the time the petition to terminate his parental rights was filed. He claimed the trial court set aside an earlier dispositional CHINS order by default when it stated it was entering a denial on his behalf and setting pretrial. But the court never entered a different dispositional order or said it was setting aside the earlier order.

Even if the trial court purported to set aside that order, it couldn't have done so under Indiana Trial Rule 60.

"The trial court could have chosen its words more carefully when it issued the September 3, 2008 order," Judge Barnes wrote. "Nevertheless, it never expressly set aside the dispositional order, it could not have done so sua sponte, and there is no basis upon which Father could have set aside the order even if he had moved to do so."

There was sufficient evidence to support the termination of both the mother and father's parental rights.


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  1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

  2. Steele did more than what is listed too. He purposely sought out to ruin me, calling potential employers and then lied about me alleging all kinds of things including kidnapping. None of his allegations were true. If you are in need of an ethical and very knowledgeable family law paralegal, perhaps someone could post their contact information. Ethics cannot be purchased, either your paralegal has them or they do not.

  3. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise