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Judges reverse CHINS determination

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the determination that a brother and sister are children in need of services, finding there was “simply no evidence” to support the finding.

In In Re the Matter of: B.N. and H.C., Children in Need of Services; M.C. v. Marion Co. Dept. of Child Services and Child Advocates, Inc., No. 49A02-1110-JC-1025, mother M.C. challenged the finding that her children B.N. and H.C. are in need of services. After being stopped by police in May 2011, police found oxycodone, Xanax and marijuana in M.C.’s car. Her son B.N. was in the backseat. Her driver’s license was suspended at the time. She was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana. The Department of Child Services took custody of her two children and later filed a petition that they were CHINS under Indiana Code 31-34-1-1, which says that a child is a CHINS if the “child’s physical or mental condition is seriously impaired or seriously endangered as a result of the inability, refusal, or neglect of the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, or supervision.”

M.C. complied with voluntary drug screenings – testing negative each time – and presented current prescriptions to DCS for the oxycodone and Xanax, although she did not have a valid prescription for Xanax when she was arrested. DCS had been involved with M.C. and her oldest child several years prior based on claims of domestic violence committed by the children’s father. M.C. now has a protective order against the father.

The DCS case manager testified and the court found the children to be CHINS.

The Court of Appeals found the juvenile court’s findings that M.C. didn’t have a valid prescription for the oxycodone when she was arrested and hasn’t proven she is employed weren’t supported by the evidence. At the CHINS hearing, M.C. provided her valid prescription for oxycodone, and the case manager testified that M.C. provided her a letter showing she was employed.

The judges found that although M.C. was charged with possession of marijuana and admitted to using it in the past, she tested negative at each screening, had valid prescriptions for the oxycodone and wasn’t charged with any crime relating to the Xanax possession. She volunteered to participate in services; they weren’t mandatory per DCS and there is no evidence that her suspended license affects the condition of the children, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik. There is no evidence that the children’s physical or mental conditions were seriously impaired or endangered by their mother.

 

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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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