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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. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

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  3. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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