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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  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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