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Court reverses DCS order requiring mother to take prescribed meds

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A mother whose child was adjudicated as child in need of services won a partial victory before the Indiana Court of Appeals Wednesday.

In In the Matter of: Am.K., A Child In Need of Services and A.M. v. Marion County Department of Child Services and Child Advocates, Inc., 49A02-1207-JC-533, mother A.M. challenged the propriety of a parental participation order entered after her daughter AM.-K. was found to be a CHINS. She claimed that because the Department of Child Services failed to file a parental participation petition, the juvenile court lacked authority to order her to participate in any services or treatment. She also claimed that the order directing her to take any medications as prescribed violates her constitutional right to decide her own mental health treatment.

A.M.’s two children were removed from her custody and alleged to be CHINS after police found the mother naked behind a hotel behaving oddly. She was involuntarily committed for emergency mental health treatment and originally was taking medicine for her bipolar disorder, but stopped because it affected her existing heart condition. The mother also testified at a hearing she objected to medication on religious grounds.

The Court of Appeals found that although DCS failed to file a formal parental participation petition as described in Indiana Code 31-34-16-3, it did file a predispositional report that included all of its recommendations for the proposed plan of care, treatment, rehabilitation and placement of A.M.-K. The other child was placed with her father. The report substantially complied with the statute. Mother specifically agreed to almost all of the recommendations as to how she should fulfill her obligation as a mother except for the requirement she take all medications as prescribed.

Regarding the order she take all medications as prescribed, the Court of Appeals ruled that additional evidence is necessary to overcome A.M.’s constitutionally protected liberty interest in remaining free of unwanted intrusions in the mind and body, Judge John Baker wrote.

“Moreover, we believe that there is an inherent problem where, as here, the parental participation order does not direct Mother to take a specifically recommended medication on the basis of a doctor’s evaluation of Mother’s mental health but requires Mother to take any and all medications without regard to her objections and the possible side effects,” he wrote.

The case is remanded for further proceedings.
 
 

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  • state abdicates legit role
    why does the constitution require that people suffering from mental illness be allowed to decline their meds and wander around endangering others? the constitution didnt mean that the first 200 years of the republic and today with more effective drugs than ever, why should it mean that now? how sad for families of people who suffer from serious mental illness. NAMI.ORG is a good resource for those who do.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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