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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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  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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