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Court of Appeals dismisses termination-order appeal

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Because the parents of six children who were removed from their home did not timely initiate the appeal of termination of their parental rights, the Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed their appeal.

Father F.L. and mother C.B. appealed the trial court orders terminating their parental rights. The five youngest children were placed in foster care because of domestic violence and drug use; the oldest child was already out of the home in a residential placement due to a delinquency case. All the children were adjudicated as children in need of services.

On Aug. 20, 2010, the trial court terminated their parental rights to the five youngest children; on Aug. 23, the court terminated their parental rights to the oldest child. On Aug. 30, C.B. filed a notice of intent to appeal and request for appointment of counsel with the trial court; the father filed an identical notice the next day. The same appellate counsel was appointed to represent the parents. On Sept. 23, their appellate attorney filed a notice of appeal, requesting assembly of the clerk’s record and preparation of the transcript.

The parents filed a motion for permission to file belated notice of appeal with the trial court on Jan. 18, 2011. The trial court entered an order finding it had no authority to grant such relief in a civil matter, and filed with the COA a Notice to Court of Appeals of Untimely Notice of Appeal.

In Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of D.L., et al.; F.L. and C.B. v. I.D.C.S., No. 20A05-1009-JT-635, the appellate court found the parents’ appeal to be untimely. The judges rejected the parents’ argument that their notice of intent to appeal is “functionally equivalent” to the required notice of appeal. The notices of intent filed in August didn’t fulfill the requirements of a notice of appeal as described in Indiana Appellate Rule 9, wrote Chief Judge Margret Robb.

The parents also claimed that the notice of appeal is similar to the Indiana Tort Claims Act’s notice of tort claim requirements. But compliance with the notice requirements of the Tort Claims Act is a procedural precedent; the notice of appeal is jurisdictional, the judge wrote.

“Moreover, even if we were inclined to agree that the two should be treated similarly, the Notices of Intent to Appeal filed by Parents in this case do not fulfill the purpose of the notice of appeal requirement – to serve as a mechanism to alert the trial court and the parties of the initiation of an appeal and to trigger action by the trial court clerk and court reporter, setting in motion the filing deadlines imposed by the Appellate Rules,” she wrote.

The judges then reviewed the record because of the constitutional dimensions of the case and found no clear error in the trial court’s decision.

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

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