ILNews

Court erred in ordering DCS to pay costs

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The Indiana Department of Child Services isn't responsible for the costs of a minor's secure detention because it never entered into a written agreement with the juvenile court to cover the costs, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

In In Re the Matter of M.W., A Child Alleged to be a Delinquent Child; Indiana Department of Child Services v. Hendricks County, No. 32A01-0905-JV-259, the DCS contested the trial court order it had to pay for M.W.'s secure detention and weekly child support while she was incarcerated in the Department of Correction. M.W. was living with her foster parents at the time of her arrest on possession of a stolen vehicle and operating while never licensed. M.W.'s DCS case manager, Kyla Rogers, admitted to being responsible for the girl and recommended she be detained in the Department of Correction instead of returning home with her foster mother. The trial court ordered her committed and that costs would be paid by the Marion County Department of Child Services at the request of Rogers. At the hearing in which M.W. admitted to the charges, the trial court ordered costs assessed against her and weekly child support to be paid by DCS because it acted in loco parentis.

Under Indiana Code Section 31-40-1-2, which took effect Jan. 1, 2009, DCS isn't responsible for payment of any costs of secure detention except for as provided under Section 2.5. That section requires a written agreement between the director of the department and the judge of the juvenile court that ordered the placement.

Based on the statute, DCS isn't responsible for the costs because it didn't enter into a written agreement, wrote Judge Patricia Riley. Hendricks County argues that Rogers invited the error during the hearing when she agreed to the trial court's inquiry as to whether she wanted M.W. placed in the DOC. The Court of Appeals rejected the argument because the exchange between Rogers and the trial court showed she believed M.W. should be placed in the correction facility until a more appropriate secure placement could be obtained. The record failed to show Rogers clearly intended for DCS to shoulder the costs of placement, wrote the judge. The Hendricks County director of probation even informed the trial court that DCS couldn't pay for her detention under the new law.

The trial court also erred in finding DCS acted in loco parentis. Citing In Re the Marriage of Snow v. England, 862 N.E.2d 664 667 (Ind. 2007), the appellate court reiterated that it would be difficult to envision burdening the DCS as an institution with a child support obligation. It that ruling, the Indiana Supreme Court wrote Indiana policy disfavors entering a support order against adults who are not natural parents and it doesn't make sense to require support from someone whose status is temporary in nature.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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