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House Committee approves CHINS bill returning power to prosecuting attorneys

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A bill giving prosecuting attorneys the ability to file a Child in Need of Services petition continues to garner strong support in the Indiana General Assembly.

The House of Representatives Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs unanimously passed Senate Bill 164 at its meeting Wednesday. Authored by Sens. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, and John Broden, D-South Bend, the bill allows prosecuting attorneys to request authorization to file a CHINS petition.

Previously, the Senate approved the measure by a 49 to 0 vote.

Holdman served as co-chair of the Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee which made numerous proposals for legislation addressing growing concerns over the handling of child abuse cases by DCS.

Testifying before the House committee, Holdman said the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council had asked that prosecutors once again be given the power to file CHINS petitions. Prosecuting attorneys had this ability previously, but when DCS was spun off from the Family and Social Services Administration, the state code was changed.

“We asked around and no one really knows why that occurred,” Holdman said.

Prosecuting attorneys told the interim study committee that the ability to file these petitions gives them another tool to use with families and helps keep the pressure on local DCS attorneys where the prosecutor believes a CHINS proceeding would be more appropriate.

Suzanne O’Malley, testifying on behalf of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, echoed Holdman.  

“We do support the bill,” she said. “It gives us an option in the case where we’ve got a child that may be doing some criminal things that we would consider filing charges on but would prefer not to and allow them to go through the CHINS system instead.”

 An amendment has been added to the bill giving the prosecuting attorney an option once the petition has been filed. The prosecuting attorney can follow the case all the way through until it is disposed of by the court, or the attorney can agree to return the matter to the DCS lawyer and let the department follow the case.

“In most cases, I’ll just tell you having been a former prosecutor, you would want to pass that back to the DCS attorney to follow that because they’re going to be involved with the family and those issues, not on a criminal case or probation type of case,” Holdman told the House committee.

After the hearing, Holdman described SB 164 as one of the DCS bills that has been introduced to provide better protection for the children and give families and providers more voice.

“With John Ryan coming on the scene, and I can only hope with our new director coming on in a few weeks, it’s just a new day for DCS,” Holdman said. “We have seen nothing but cooperation from John Ryan. It’s been a breath of fresh air.”  

Ryan was appointed DCS director when former director James Payne stepped down in September 2012. In January, Gov. Mike Pence named Lake County Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura to lead the agency.

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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