ILNews

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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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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