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High court hears first 'rocket docket' appeal

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In the first appeal of a juvenile case under Indiana Appellate Rule 14.1, the "rocket docket," the Indiana Supreme Court ruled the juvenile court's determination that a child shouldn't be immediately reunited with his mother until after the school year concluded - contrary to what the Department of Child Services recommended - wasn't clearly erroneous.

Also in the appeal, the Supreme Court addressed whether the juvenile court's order rejecting DCS' placement recommendation is eligible for expedited appeal under Rule 14.1; what the appropriate appellate standard for review for these types of expedited appeals is; and whether the juvenile court properly rejected DCS' recommendation.

In the case granted transfer with opinion today, In Re: T.S., a child in need of services, Indiana Department of Child Services v. LaPorte Circuit Court and LaPorte County CASA, No. 46S04-0904-JV-160, the high court first had to determine whether the juvenile court's decision was within the category of rulings appealable under App. Rule. 14.1. The rule says that orders entered under Indiana Code Section 31-34-19-6.1(f) are eligible for expedited appeal; that statute says if a juvenile court enters findings under -6.1(d) and (e), the department may appeal in an expeditious manner the juvenile court's decree under any available procedure provided by Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure or Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure. In this case, the juvenile court entered a dispositional decree with written findings and conclusions and stated why it wasn't accepting DCS' recommendation T.S. immediately be returned to his mother's home, which satisfies subsections (d) and (e), wrote Justice Brent Dickson.

The Supreme Court agreed with DCS that I.C. Section 31-34-19-6.1(d) at the trial court level means the trial court is to accept DCS' recommendations unless they are unreasonable or contrary to the welfare of the child and the state is to presume the recommendations are correct.

"Because of the statutory presumption favoring DCS' final recommendations, juvenile courts thus lack unfettered discretion to make a contrary decision," the justice wrote.

However, the appellate review standard under this statute will be reviewed as clearly erroneous instead of an abuse of discretion. The juvenile court supported with specific factual findings its conclusion that reunification wasn't in T.S.' best interest at that time. DCS didn't show the findings failed to support the juvenile court's ruling and the high court declined to find the juvenile court's determination was clearly erroneous, wrote Justice Dickson.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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