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Courts not responsible to find person named in subpoena

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It is not up to the court to find someone named in a subpoena if the person requesting it doesn’t know where to send the subpoena, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. That argument was being made by an incarcerated father appealing a determination that his child is in need of services.

Child V.C. lived with the child's mother, who had a history of issues with her mental state. At one point, mother was no longer able to care for V.C., which led to a CHINS determination. Eventually, mother was able to adequately care for V.C. After that initial proceeding, V.C.’s maternal aunt was approved to care for V.C. for short periods if mother’s mental state deteriorated to the point where she needed a break from the child.

In August 2011, mother told police and the Department of Child Services that she could no longer provide suitable care for her child. V.C.’s father, V.S., was incarcerated at the time. DCS alleged that V.C. was a CHINS and was granted temporary wardship.

V.S. denied the CHINS allegations and claimed that the maternal aunt would take V.C. He requested the aunt be subpoenaed, but did not provide the court with an address. He believed the court should track her down. V.S. also sought a continuance of the fact-finding hearing so he could secure the aunt’s testimony regarding her potential willingness to take the child. The juvenile court denied the subpoena request and continuance, and the court determined V.C. was a CHINS. V.C was placed in foster care.

The appellate judges affirmed, finding V.S.’s procedural due process rights weren’t denied when the court denied his requests to issue a subpoena to the aunt or continue the hearing. The father didn’t show how being incarcerated prevented him from contacting V.C.’s mother or the DCS to get the aunt’s contact information or that he couldn’t access research databases to find her information, wrote Judge Cale Bradford. It’s not the juvenile court’s responsibility to “go out and find” the person named in the subpoena, wrote the judge.

Father was also mistaken about the prior case plan involving the aunt. The former case manager, Kirstin Meadows, testified as a witness during the fact-finding hearing that the aunt was only approved to babysit.

“In light of Meadow’s testimony refuting Father’s claim that no CHINS determination was necessary because maternal aunt had been approved to accept custody of V.C., as well as DCS’s stipulation to Father’s desired testimony that maternal aunt would be willing to be considered as a relative placement for V.C., we conclude that Father has failed to demonstrate good cause for granting his request for a continuance,” Bradford wrote in In the Matter of V.C., Child Alleged to be in Need of Services v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services, No. 79A02-1112-JC-1172.

 

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