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Justices decline to reconsider out-of-state placements ruling

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The Indiana Supreme Court has denied a rehearing petition from the state attorney general’s office to revisit a June ruling that upheld three statutes involving juvenile judges’ authority on out-of-state placements.

On Tuesday, the justices unanimously denied the request in the case of In The Matter of A.B. v. State, No. 71S00-1002-JV-00156.

St. Joseph Probate Judge Peter Nemeth had placed a troubled teenager in an Arizona treatment facility after an escape from a South Bend location, but the Indiana Department of Child Services objected. It blocked the placement based on its ability to do so following sweeping legislative changes in 2009 that gave the state agency more authority in that decision-making process where state funding is involved.

That led to the local judge declaring the statutes unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court disagreed on the constitutionality, finding the budget-focused laws are valid and that the DCS has statutory power to take costs into account when considering placements. But while upholding the controversial law changes, the justices simultaneously held that the state agency acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in this specific case, because it appeared the DCS made the placement decision because of the location and not because of overall costs and benefits of the juvenile.

In asking for rehearing, the Office of the Indiana Attorney General says the justices went too far in analyzing the specific case involving A.B. and the facts surrounding the DCS placement denial in that situation. Instead, the AG argued that the justices should have simply addressed the constitutionality of the statutes and stopped there, rather than finding the DCS refusal was “arbitrary and capricious.” The decision, written by Justice Steven David for a unanimous court, left open too many questions and warrants reconsideration or further explanation, the AG’s brief said.

Citing non-juvenile cases from the past three decades, the AG argued that Indiana appellate courts have held some state agency actions – such as Department of Correction decisions on restitution, loss of earned credit time and inmate segregation – are not reviewable by the state judiciary. State statute doesn’t provide any criteria for the DCS to use in evaluating out-of-state placements and the Supreme Court didn’t outline any in its June decision.

The justices denied transfer without an opinion, and this final decision leaves the June decision in place.
 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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