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COA: Court properly denied father’s motions in termination case

November 23, 2015

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of a father’s rights over his young son Monday, finding the trial court acted within its discretion when it denied his motions for a continuance and order to transport from where he was incarcerated to the Indianapolis court.

J.E. was removed from his mother and father at two days old and placed in foster care. Since his removal, father K.E. has seen his son twice. K.E. was jailed shortly after the removal for failure to appear at pretrial hearings in his Class D felony synthetic identity deception case. He received probation for the conviction, which was later revoked for failure to report. K.E. was then sent to a Department of Correction facility in Edinburgh.

In October 2014, the Department of Child Services sought to terminate father’s parental rights. He was represented by counsel at a February 2015 pretrial hearing and sought to continue the fact-finding hearing until after his projected release in July 2015. He also sought transport from the facility in Edinburgh to the Indianapolis court. The trial court denied both motions.

K.E. was able to participate telephonically in the April 2015 hearing. The court terminated his parental rights shortly thereafter.

In In the Matter of the Term. of the Parent-Child Relationship of J.E., and K.E. v. The Ind. Dept. of Child Services, 49A05-1505-JT-437, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court acted within its discretion in denying father’s motions for continuance and to transport. K.E. didn’t present any evidence to the appellate court concerning how he would have better assisted counsel in preparing and presenting his case had a continuance been granted, so he did not show any prejudice stemming from the court ruling.

The trial court noted in denying his motion for transport that it considered the factors outlined in In re C.G., 954 N.E.2d 910, 917 (Ind. 2011). In that case, the Indiana Supreme Court mentioned 11 factors the trial court should balance regarding transport orders. Father argued that the trial court had to make a finding on each factor, but C.G.’s list comprises factors to be considered, not elements to be proven, Judge Terry Crone wrote.

“We do not read C.G. to require the trial court to specify that it did not find certain factors compelling or even relevant to Father’s case. In other words, having considered the logistical issues surrounding an order to transport an inmate from the Edinburgh correctional facility to the juvenile courtroom in Indianapolis, the court reasoned that Father’s participation could be achieved by another means,” Crone wrote.
 

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