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High court to hear arguments on CHINS case

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The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday in a Marion County case dealing with whether a child can be determined in need of services with respect to one parent but not the other.

Set for 9 a.m., the arguments come in the case of In re The Matter of N.E.; N.L. v. Marion County Department of Child Services and Child Advocates, Inc., No. 49A02-0806-JV-522. The Marion Superior Juvenile Court ruled that N.E. was a Child In Need of Services, but the father, N.L., appealed the judgment, saying the evidence didn't support the girl was a CHINS with respect to him. An appellate panel on March 19, 2009, reversed and remanded, concluding that although the child was in need of services with respect to the mother, the juvenile court hadn't determined whether the father was willing and able to parent the child appropriately.

Judges Patricia Riley and Carr Darden, who made up the majority in the 2-1 decision, noted that due process is at stake in this case. Citing four-year-old precedent from In re J.Q., No. 836 N.E.2d 961 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), they noted, "Specifically, we are concerned that procedural irregularities, like an absence of clear findings of fact, in a CHINS proceeding may be of such import that they deprive a parent of procedural due process with respect to a potential subsequent termination of parental rights.'"

In writing for the majority, Judge Riley did not say the father would automatically have custody but that the juvenile court should determine whether the father is willing and able to appropriately parent N.E. because that child is a CHINS with respect to mother.

Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented with her own eight-page opinion.

"I believe that a child is either a CHINS or is not a CHINS and that the DCS has met its burden of proving that N.E. is a CHINS," she wrote. "However, because I believe that the juvenile court's dispositional order falls short of the statutory requirements and therefore we do not know the court's reason for its disposition, I would remand this case for a new dispositional order in accordance with Indiana Code 31-34-19-10.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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