ILNews

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. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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