ILNews

Court rules on media access to CHINS cases

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For the second time this month, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled on media access of CHINS records in a high-profile case involving the death of a child. In a ruling issued today in In the Matter of T.B., a child alleged to be a Child in Need of Services; Charity Bailey v. Indiana Newspapers, Inc., No. 49A02-0712-JV-1007, Charity Bailey challenged several orders issued by the Marion Superior Court, Juvenile Division, granting release of court and agency records to The Indianapolis Star and Fox 59 News following the death of her 3-year-old daughter, T.B. Bailey and her boyfriend, Lawrence Green, allegedly neglected and murdered T.B.

The juvenile court granted media access to a pending CHINS proceeding involving Bailey and T.B. at the time of T.B.'s death, a transcript of an August 2007 review hearing in the pending CHINS proceeding, a closed January 2006 CHINS proceeding involving Bailey and T.B., records of two juvenile delinquency proceedings involving Bailey, and Indiana Department of Child Services and Marion County Department of Child Services records involving T.B.

The appellate court affirmed the juvenile court in its release of the pending CHINS proceeding and the closed CHINS proceeding pursuant to Indiana Code Section 31-39-2-10, and IDCS and MCDCS records pursuant to I.C. Section 31-33-18-1.5, wrote Judge Terry Crone. The transcript of the pending proceeding shouldn't have been released, because under I.C. Section 31-32-6-2, the appellate court believed a "proceeding" is an actual hearing or trial, not the transcript of the hearing or trial. If the legislature had intended otherwise, it could have written the statute to include transcripts, wrote Judge Crone.

Bailey's juvenile delinquency proceedings records also shouldn't have been released because her alleged neglect and murder of T.B. weren't the basis for the delinquency actions, so the juvenile court erred in releasing them pursuant to I.C. 31-39-2-8. Also in the opinion, the Court of Appeals highlights I.C. Section 31-39-1-1, which provides that the confidentiality provisions of that chapter apply to all records of juvenile court except "records involving an adult charged with a crime or criminal contempt of court."

Noting it would be a futile exercise to try to determine which records fall under this exception now, the appellate court wrote it believed the legislative intent behind that exception applies only to juvenile court records that relate specifically to both the adult and the charged crime, wrote Judge Crone.

On Oct. 10, another Court of Appeals panel addressed the release of CHINS records to the media concerning the siblings of a murdered child in In the matter of K.B. and B.L; Amanda Brooks Lay, mother v. Department of Child Services. That panel found the trial court erred in releasing the caseworker's investigatory report and granting access to the siblings' CHINS records.

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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