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DCS admits petition flawed; COA orders more proceedings

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The Gibson Circuit Court committed fundamental error in terminating the parental rights of a mother and father over their young child, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Friday. The Department of Child Services admitted that it failed to comply with statute when filing the petition to terminate their parental rights.

In Term. of the Parent-Child Rel. of: B.F. (Minor Child), and M.G. & S.F. (Father & Mother) v. The Indiana Dept. of Child Services, 26A04-1202-JT-90, parents M.G. and S.F. appealed Judge Jeffrey Meade’s decision to terminate their rights to their child, B.F. The DCS removed the child from the mother’s home in January 2010. The parents admitted to the allegations in the CHINS petition. On March 30, 2010, the parents signed a parental participation order, and the trial court entered its dispositional decree in May.

In October 2010, the DCS filed the petition to end M.G. and S.F.’s parental rights, alleging B.F. had been removed from their care for at least six months under the dispositional decree issued in March. But the petition contained no allegations that the trial court entered a finding under Indiana Code 31-34-21-5.6, nor did it allege that B.F. had been removed from the parents for at least 15 of the most recent 22 months, the appellate court noted.

Meade terminated their parental rights in February 2012.

“Here, DCS has conceded that its petition is jurisdictionally flawed. We acknowledge that DCS admits they failed to comply with the statute,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote.

The trial court entered the dispositional decree in May 2010, but the termination petition was filed in October 2010, less than four months after the entry of the dispositional decree and less than nine months after B.F. was removed from the home.

“Further, there is no evidence that the trial court ever entered a finding under I.C. § 31-34-21-5.6. Therefore, the only requirement alleged under I.C. § 31-35-2-4(b)(2)(A) was not true,” she wrote.

The case was remanded for further proceedings.

 

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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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