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Judges dismiss state’s appeal regarding juvenile delinquency petition

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the state has no statutory right to appeal a juvenile court’s decision to rescind an order approving the filing of a delinquency petition against a teen accused of molesting two children.

I.T. already was adjudicated as a delinquent for committing what would be Class B felony child molesting if committed by an adult when he admitted during a court-ordered polygraph examination to molesting his younger brother and a cousin. He was required as part of his treatment program to undergo the polygraph tests.

I.T.’s statements were reported to the Department of Child Services and police. He was later interviewed by a police detective and admitted to molesting the children. The state then filed a delinquency petition alleging he committed what would be child molesting if committed by an adult. The juvenile court originally approved the filing of the delinquency petition, but later rescinded it after I.T. filed a motion to dismiss.

I.T. argued that the allegations arose from his disclosures during his treatment and they are inadmissible under Indiana Code 31-37-8-4.5. Elkhart Circuit Judge Terry Shewmaker concluded the statute confers immunity with respect to the statements I.T. made during his polygraph test and any evidence gained as a result of those disclosures.

Juvenile law allows for appeals to be taken as provided by law, which incorporates existing law found outside the juvenile code. This includes the procedural rule requiring statutory authorization for the state to appeal in criminal matters. The state may appeal from an order granting a motion to dismiss an indictment or information.

In State of Indiana v. I.T., 20A03-1202-JV-76, the Court of Appeals decided that the juvenile order doesn’t constitute an order granting a motion to dismiss.

“Prior to the commencement of juvenile delinquency proceedings, however, the filing of a delinquency petition must be approved by the juvenile court,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote. “It seems evident to us that a juvenile court’s order declining to approve the filing of a delinquency petition under I.C. § 31-37-10-2 is not ‘an order granting a motion to dismiss an indictment or information’ for the purposes of I.C. § 35-38-4-2(1). Rather, a juvenile court’s decision not to approve the filing of a juvenile delinquency petition prevents the initiation of juvenile proceedings in the first place. One cannot dismiss a proceeding that was really never commenced to begin with.”

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  1. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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