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Termination of rights affirmed despite error

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A trial court erred when it failed to follow Indiana Code in a termination of parental rights hearing, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today. Because the appellate court found the error to be harmless, it affirmed the involuntary termination of a father's parental rights.

Father Daniel Bailey Sr. appealed the termination of his rights to his twins in the case In the matter of the termination of the parent-child relationship of S.B. and D.B. v. Dubois County Department of Child Services, No. 19A01-0804-JV-161. The Court of Appeals raised sua sponte one issue: whether the trial court violated I.C. Section 34-35-2-8 when after a termination hearing, it failed to terminate Bailey's parental rights or dismiss the Dubois County Department of Child Service's involuntary termination petition. Instead, the trial court postponed its pronouncement of judgment for six months to allow Bailey one final chance to prove he could make the necessary changes to care for his kids. The judge granted Bailey time to comply with a court order requiring treatment, classes, and drug testing, even though DCDCS met its burden of proof to terminate his rights. Bailey violated the order and his rights were terminated.

The appellate court examined I.C. Section 31-35-2-8, which clearly provides that a trial court shall either find the allegations in the petition to be true and terminate the parental relationship or it will find the allegations to not be true and dismiss the petition.

Because the trial court failed to comply with statute, it committed an error, wrote Judge Patricia Riley. Yet the error was harmless, the appellate court ruled and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Remanding the cause to the trial court to hold a new termination hearing would be against the twins' best interest because they have lingered in the system six months longer than they needed to while Bailey failed to follow the court order, the judge wrote.

"The twins need and deserve stability and permanency now. The current system has already been criticized for putting children in limbo too long, thereby fostering instability and unhinged relationships," she wrote. "In light of these considerations and the trial court's clear determination that the DCDCS satisfied its burden of proof on November 5, 2007 and again on February 26, 2008, we affirm the trial court's termination of Father's parental rights to the twins."

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  1. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  2. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  3. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  4. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  5. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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