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Mother not denied due process by denial of motion for continuance

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A mother living in Florida was not denied due process when her motion to continue a termination hearing involving her three children, who were determined to be in need of services in Indiana, was denied by the Cass Circuit Court, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

In Term. of the Parent-Child Rel. of: S.S., J.S., and C.S. (Minor Children) and, T.S. (Mother) v. The Indiana Dept. of Child Services, 09A02-1211-JT-936, mother T.S. argued she should have been allowed additional time to be present at the termination hearing for her three children because she lives in Florida. T.S. and the three children have been involved with child protective services in three states – including Indiana – due to the mother’s history of domestic violence and the children’s poor health conditions.

After the children were removed from her care in Indiana, but before the termination hearing, T.S. moved to Florida while expecting her fourth child. The Department of Child Services and her attorney communicated with her and told her of the date of the termination hearing, but she did not appear. Her attorney filed a motion for continuance which was denied because the court wanted to move toward establishing permanency for the children, who had been out of mother’s care for almost a year. Several experts testified terminating the parental rights was in the children’s best interests. T.S.’s rights were ended Oct. 22, 2012.

The Court of Appeals noted that the children suffered from medical conditions that required treatment and preventative measures and T.S. did not properly care for them. She was not willing to participate in services and often left the children unattended during visits. Since the children’s removal, they have improved.

The judges found T.S. failed to show prejudice by the termination. She was aware of the date of the termination hearing, had an attorney, and knew how to contact her counsel.

“Upon balancing the Mother’s interest, the risk of error by not having Mother present, and the State’s interest in protecting the welfare of these children, we conclude that under the facts and circumstances of this case, the juvenile court did not deny Mother due process of law when it denied her motion for a continuance,” Judge John Baker wrote.

 

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  1. 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.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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