ILNews

Mother loses appeal of CHINS finding

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The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a mother’s argument that child in need of services findings should be vacated because the judge in the matter should not have been able to make a negative inference from her invocation of her Fifth Amendment right not to testify.

The Department of Child Services filed a petition alleging that A.G. was a CHINS after several doctors had concerns that his mother M.K. was causing the baby’s cyanotic episodes, which caused his skin to turn blue, his eyes to roll back in his head and his body to stiffen. A.G. was diagnosed with mild to moderate pulmonary hypertension, which is common among his father’s relatives. But M.K. was the only one to witness a cyanotic episode. The doctors were concerned if he was left in her care, he could die.

When A.G. was removed from M.K.’s care, he only had one episode, which was attributed to his diagnosis.  

While the CHINS proceeding was pending, an evaluation by a board-certified clinical psychiatrist determined that mother is afflicted with Factitious Disorder by Proxy and is responsible for A.G.’s life-threatening cyanotic episodes.

After A.K. was born, the child was also removed from mother’s care and a CHINS petition filed.

During the CHINS proceedings, M.K. refused to testify. The children were adjudicated as CHINS, during which the trial court entered the conclusion, “Mother’s refusal to testify in the state’s case in chief draws a negative inference that Mother was concerned about incriminating herself through her testimony, further indicative of mother’s guilt.”

M.K. only appealed this finding, arguing the rule in Gash v. Kohm, 476 N.E.2d 910, 913 (Ind. Ct. App. 1985), should not apply in CHINS proceedings. The rule outlined in Gash does not prohibit a trier of fact in a civil case from drawing adverse inferences from a witnesses’ refusal to testify.

In In the Matter of A.G. and A.K. Children Alleged to be in Need of Services, M.K. v. Indiana Department of Child Services, 82A05-1306-JC-297, the Court of Appeals found the mother could not support her contentions or make a cogent argument based on public policy or constitutional law. Since she doesn’t challenge the remainder of the findings and conclusions, the adjudication stands.
 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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