ILNews

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. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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