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‘Marijuana legal elsewhere’ claim no help in parental termination appeal

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Termination of parental rights was properly granted for a molesting father in federal prison and a drug-using mother who failed to comply with court-ordered services after striking a child.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the Wabash Circuit Court ruling in In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: S.L. & D.L. (Minor Children) and K.M., (Mother) & D.L.,(Father) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, 85A02-1304-JT-308.

Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote that the trial court’s findings of fact were sufficient and warranted termination of parental rights. Federal authorities didn’t allow father to participate in the termination hearings, but he was represented by counsel and received transcripts of two of three hearings. The panel rejected arguments that his due process rights were violated, noting this was only raised on appeal.

Mother had tested positive for marijuana, methamphetamine and synthetic drugs, according to the record, and indicated uncertainty about severing ties with father despite her belief that he posed a molestation threat to their children. She also argued that she eventually had clean drug screens, which the court noted was after she was behind bars.

The court also noted mother argued “her marijuana use is ‘not a sufficient reason’ for terminating her parental rights. … She claims that ‘there are many people in the United States that agree with her about marijuana’ and cites the legalization of recreational marijuana use in other states as support for her claim.

“Assuming for the sake of argument that this is true, Mother fails to acknowledge that recreational marijuana use is not legal in Indiana and, more importantly, that one of the prerequisites for reunification with her children was that she not use marijuana. Nonetheless, Mother used marijuana frequently during the termination proceedings,” Vaidik wrote in affirming the trial court.  



 

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  • I forgot to mention
    The last 3 Presidents of the US all smoked marijuana. No one has ever died from smoking marijuana. Almost every day medical studies are being reported showing amazing benefits to consuming marijuana. Drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco are far more dangerous to your health.
  • Note on marijuana
    George Washington grew it for 20 years on his farm and in his diary which you can view on line speculated about the medical benefits of smoking marijuana. Thomas Jefferson grew it and smoked it. Betsy Ross' flag, the sails of Columbus' 3 ships, and the early drafts of the Constitution of the US and Declaration of Independence were all made from hemp.

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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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