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. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.