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Teen father not deprived by lack of guardian ad litem in termination judgment

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A 15-year-old who fathered a child was not deprived due process because a guardian ad litem wasn’t appointed for him during proceedings in which his parental rights were terminated.

“We conclude that any risk of error created by not providing Father with a GAL was low,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote for a Court of Appeals panel in Term. of the Parent-Child Rel. of: D.T., (Minor Child), and T.S. (Father) v. The Indiana Dept. of Child Services, 49A02-1205-JT-420.

Guardians ad litem were appointed in the matter for the mother and the child, according to the record. The mother was represented because of her lower cognitive abilities; the child because of developmental disabilities that required regular therapy after spending his first five months on a feeding tube.

The opinion notes that the father T.S., who since has been charged with multiple felonies as a juvenile, at first expressed he wanted nothing to do with the child and refused to participate in services. He later said he wanted to work toward having the child in his home, but he continued to disregard conditions set by the court.

“Father was given multiple chances to participate in services and learn to parent the Child, but declined to do so. The record indicates that Father chose not to participate in services, not that he did not participate because he was unaware that the proscribed steps were necessary if he wanted to maintain his relationship with the Child,” Robb wrote.

“The juvenile court properly determined that the best interests of the Child would be best served by terminating the relationship between Father and the Child and allowing the Child to be adopted. There was no fundamental error, and Father’s due process rights were not violated when the court failed to appoint a GAL to him.”

The panel took issue with the trial court allowing a hearing to proceed while T.S. was without counsel, and with a participation decree that required him to seek gainful employment and housing, among other things.

 “We observe that while the obligations were not well tailored to a minor, the court emphasized Father’s failure to meet obligations that were appropriate for a minor. Additionally, Father was given multiple referrals to multiple different services throughout the eighteen months leading up to termination, in large part out of respect for his age. It was the sum total of Father’s lack of participation that largely informed the court’s opinion, and not choices that were made at any one hearing,” the panel ruled.

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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