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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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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