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Text messages properly admitted in custody dispute

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The Indiana Court of Appeals held Wednesday that evidence presented during a custody modification hearing laid a sufficient foundation for the admission of text messages between the mother and father.  

Father R.B. appealed the order modifying custody visitation and support of his son B.B. with T.J. The two had joint physical and legal custody of the boy, but after R.B. intended to relocate from Kokomo to Westfield, mother T.J. sought modification based on a substantial change in circumstances. She alleged R.B. lost interest in the boy after he had another child, his use of alcohol impedes his ability to drive and care for their son, and he had cut off communication with her.

At the hearing, mother presented text messages she printed off her phone that were between her and R.B. He challenged the introduction of the text messages, which he claimed played a role in the court’s decision to modify custody. He doesn’t argue the messages weren’t exchanged between the two, but that he believed T.J. deleted certain messages in order to make her the more sympathetic figure. But R.B. never directed the court to any part he believed content was missing, nor did he try to admit evidence of deleted text messages, Judge Elaine Brown wrote in In Re The Paternity of B.B., R.B. v. T.J., 34A02-1303-JP-243.

“To the extent that he suggests that, without the purported omitted text messages, a misleading impression was created, we note that he did testify on the second day of the hearing that he believed certain text messages were not contained in the exhibit, the court heard Father’s testimony, and we cannot say that the court failed to account for such testimony,” she wrote.

“The trial court was able to listen to the testimony and evidence presented and weigh the credibility of the witnesses, including evidence regarding the parents’ communication with one another as well as evidence that Father had been recently convicted for OWI, and that Father filed a CPS report implicating Mother’s boyfriend which was unsubstantiated. The court ruled that Mother was in the best position to act as B.B.’s primary caretaker and awarded her physical custody. After review, we cannot say that the court’s findings or conclusions were clearly erroneous, and we conclude that the court did not abuse its discretion in granting Mother’s petition to modify custody.”
 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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