One case involves the probation revocation that followed a man's questionable communications with minor children he wasn't supposed to be around. The other involves a question of which "home state" child custody and visitation issues should be heard based on federal and state statutes.
In Theron W. Hunter v. State of Indiana, No. 69A01-0702-CR-061, the court will take up an issue addressed in an unpublished memorandum decision from the Court of Appeals in June. The action stems from Ripley County where Hunter pleaded guilty to child molesting in 2001 and served his time, was released, and put on probation. He bought a trailer on his father's property, living about 25 feet from another trailer where his sister and three children resided. He informed everyone about not being able to be around the kids, and his probation officer told Hunter he'd have to change the arrangement. Hunter said he was around the children at times but left when they came nearby and never actually communicated with them. A probation violation was filed and the trial court determined Hunter had violated his probation. It revoked probation and ordered him to serve the entire four-year suspended sentence.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals determined there was sufficient evidence to support the probation revocation because Hunter had admitted he came into contact with the minor children multiple times and didn't notify his probation officer within 24 hours. Hunter had argued he didn't have actual communications with them, while the state sought the revocation based on his prohibited contact.
Justices also granted transfer in a marriage case, Anthony N. Stewart v. Signe L. (Stewart) Vulliet, No. 12A02-0610-CV-896. This case from Clinton Superior Court involves child custody and visitation issues being handled by courts in both the states of Washington and Indiana and how the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act and Indiana Code 31-17-3 apply.
The mother and father married in August 1992 in Washington and lived there for 11 years before moving to Indiana where Stewart's family resided, though Vulliet's family continued living in Washington. She filed for dissolution in November 2003 in Indiana before moving back to Washington, where the couple's daughter was born in February 2004.
The Clinton Superior judge eventually granted the mother's motion to dismiss custody and visitation issues pursuant to the state and federal statutes, in that Indiana is an inconvenient forum because the child was born in Washington and has always been the home state. However, the court ordered that child support issues would remain in Indiana.
Indiana appellate judges wrote in a May 30 opinion that the mother waived any objection regarding the daughter's home state under the UCCJA because she didn't bring it up initially. But the appeals court also reversed the trial court's granting of her motion to dismiss custody and visitation issues.
"The Washington court clearly gave Mother a more favorable custody arrangement and visitation schedule than the Indiana court had ordered .... The timing and sequence of events in this case give the appearance that Mother was attempting to manipulate the UCCJA to gain a favorable result," the court wrote, citing past appellate caselaw from 1999. "We conclude that ... the trial court erred by granting Mother's motion to dismiss the custody and visitation issues based on inconvenient forum."