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Mom loses bid to bar DCS child interviews after clean home check

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A mother who challenged a court order granting the Department of Child Services’ petitions to interview her minor children lost her appeal Wednesday, despite her argument that a DCS inspection of her home and her screening found no evidence of drug abuse that had been alleged in a complaint.

“We conclude that Mother has failed to establish that the trial court erred in granting DCS’s Petitions to Interview Children or that she was denied due process,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the majority in In Re: The Matter of A.H., and S.H., Minor Children, V.H., Mother v. Indiana Department of Child Services, 10A01-1302-JM-93. “Accordingly, we affirm the ruling of the trial court.”

Mother V.H. said she wished to shield her children from false allegations that she suspected were made by the children’s father, who V.H. claimed had previously made false complaints against her.

DCS on Jan. 9 received a report that V.H. was using methamphetamine and heroin on a daily basis and selling drugs while her 4-, 6-, and 8-year-old children were at home. A DCS caseworker visited the home two days later and found no such evidence, and the mother passed a drug screen.

But V.H. declined to agree to allow the caseworker to interview the children about the drug allegations. She said subjecting the children to the interview was a violation of her 14th Amendment right to direct the upbringing of her children.
 
The trial court said the mother’s argument was compelling, but ultimately held, “In this case, [DCS] has a compelling interest, and has no other means to directly assess the conditions of these children without an interview.”

“While we recognize the fundamental right of a parent to raise her child without undue interference by the state, we cannot say that due process requires DCS to conduct an assessment or a portion of an assessment in order to obtain information which would provide a basis supporting the accuracy or reliability of the report, prior to interviewing the child or children,” Brown wrote in the majority opinion joined by Judge Cale Bradford.

“Indeed, an interview of the child or children as part of this initial evaluation may provide the information needed for DCS to classify a report as substantiated or unsubstantiated. We cannot say that legislation allowing DCS the ability to interview a child as part of the initial assessment and after obtaining a court order if necessary violates due process.”

In dissent, Judge Patricia Riley said she would consider the appeal moot since the trial court refused to stay the interviews pending appeal, and that the matter is of limited public import.

“In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I must conclude that the children have been interviewed and no effective relief can be given to Mother,” Riley wrote.

“I conclude that the case does not present an issue of great public interest and, therefore, I would dismiss the appeal as moot.”
 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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