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Judges affirm finding teen is a CHINS

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The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the finding that a 17-year-old is a child in need of services, ruling that evidence of her drug test wasn't irrelevant and was properly admitted by the trial court.

Teenager S.W. argued the trial court erred by admitting evidence of her marijuana use and that the Miami County Department of Child Services didn't present sufficient evidence to prove she is a CHINS.

A police officer saw S.W. and her friend A.C. walking along a rural road 12 miles from S.W.'s home around 11 p.m. A.C.'s mother called police to report she had run away. The officer called S.W.'s parents but her father told the officer they weren't coming to get her and that the officer should deal with the situation.

S.W. spoke with a family case manager, who also couldn't get her parents to pick up the phone. S.W. admitted to previous drug use and abuse in the home and was placed in a temporary shelter. The trial court admitted evidence of S.W.'s positive drug test for marijuana over her objection at the fact-finding hearing and authorized the filing of a CHINS petition. The trial court eventually determined S.W. is a CHINS.

The appellate court upheld that finding in In the matter of S.W., a child in need of services v. Indiana Department of Child Services, No. 52A05-0910-JV-1005. S.W. argued she was illegally detained when the drug test was administered so it shouldn't have been admitted, but S.W. was never illegally detained. The police officer attempted to have her parents pick her up but they refused. The officer then called DCS and took S.W. to the police station to ensure her safety, wrote Judge Patricia Riley. At the time of the drug test, DCS had probable cause to believe S.W. was a CHINS due to lack of supervision by her parents and received an order for temporary custody.

The Court of Appeals also rejected S.W.'s argument that the evidence of the drug use is irrelevant.

"Although an adequately supervised teenager may find ways in which to experiment with illicit drugs, a child's drug use can be a direct product of a lack of parental supervision," which would be relevant to the CHINS proceedings, wrote Judge Riley.

The judges also found S.W. was provided notice that her drug use could be an issue. S.W. told the case manager that domestic violence, drug use and abuse continued to happen in her home following DCS' previous involvement with the family one year earlier, so that put her and her family on notice that drug use by anyone in the home could be an issue in the CHINS proceeding, wrote Judge Riley.

Her parents refused to pick S.W. up, didn't answer repeated phone calls, and didn't inquire about her whereabouts when she didn't return home that night. Based on her parents actions, and S.W.'s statement about the previous drug abuse and violence in the home, DCS presented sufficient evidence to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that S.W.'s physical or mental condition was seriously endangered by her parents' refusal or neglect to provide necessary supervision, wrote the judge.

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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