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Judges uphold termination of parental rights

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The Indiana Court of Appeals found ample evidence that a mother took little to no steps to correct the problems that led to her son’s removal and continued placement out of her care, so it affirmed the termination of parental rights. In its opinion, the judges also discussed Indiana Evidence Rule 201(b) regarding judicial notice of “records of a court of this state.”

In Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of D.K.; O.K. v. Indiana Department of Child Services, No. 22A01-1110-JT-485, mother O.K. appealed the termination of her parental rights to her son, D.K. He was removed from O.K.’s care in 2009 and placed in foster care after the Department of Child Services substantiated a report of neglect. D.K. was adjudicated as a child in need of services and O.K. was ordered to participate in several programs and obtain stable housing and employment. Over the course of the next two years, she lived at eight different residences, didn’t participate in services, and didn’t keep a job.

At the hearing to terminate her parental rights, she said she had just put a deposit down on an apartment with the help of her father and boyfriend. The trial court terminated her parental rights in 2011.

The appellate court found clear and convincing evidence that the conditions that led to D.K.’s initial removal and continued placement outside of his mother’s care would not be remedied. She had an opportunity to reunite with him, but instead was concerned more with her own desires than her son’s welfare.

The judges also discussed the fact that at the termination hearing, DCS asked the trial court to take judicial notice of the underlying CHINS proceedings, and the trial court agreed to do so. In its brief, the DCS related facts that are based on documents filed in the CHINS action that aren’t support by any evidence actually introduced at the termination of parental rights hearing. Neither party provided these documents for appellate review.

The trial court didn’t err in taking judicial notice of the CHINS proceedings based on Rule 201(b), but judicial review can present problems for appellate review, noted Judge Michael Barnes, citing the post-conviction case Graham v. State, 941 N.E.2d 1091, 1097. TPR cases are similar to PCR cases in that they often must refer to and rely heavily on records in different, but related proceedings, he wrote.

“In that respect, what we noted in Graham applies equally here, and in fact in any situation where a trial court takes judicial notice of records of another court proceeding in deciding a case. Evidence Rule 201(b) now allows trial courts to take judicial notice of records of other court proceedings, but if a court does so, there must be some effort made to include such 'other' records in the record of the current proceeding,” he wrote. “Furthermore, if a party on appeal wishes to rely on parts of the ‘other’ record or records in making an argument before this court, it should include those parts in an appendix submitted to this court under Indiana Appellate Rule 50.”
 

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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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