DCS found in contempt for not searching current, former directors’ emails in child death case

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A Hendricks Superior Court judge has found the Indiana Department of Child Services in civil contempt for failing to search the emails of its current and former directors in a case involving a 4-year-old who was killed.

DCS, a nonparty to the case, was ordered in May to produce documents responsive to the plaintiff’s request for production, but there were multiple delays and extensions.

At a contempt hearing Sept. 25, DCS Director Eric Miller repeated that discovery production was complete as of Sept. 22. He also said neither his email nor the email belonging to former DCS Director Terry Stigdon were part of the batch of documents produced.

The plaintiff later discovered some emails produced did include Miller and Stigdon from December 2020, about nine months before the death of Judah Morgan. Miller was chief of staff at the time.

The plaintiff’s attorney, Charlie Rice, said in a filing after the hearing that he wasn’t able to review all emails before the hearing.

DCS argued in response that the plaintiff essentially conceded that the agency produced responsive documents and that even though Miller’s email wasn’t part of the search, the results still “encompassed” those messages.

Judge Robert Freese disagreed.

“Thus, given that DCS did not even search the email mailboxes for former Director Stigdon and current Director Miller — and both email mailboxes contain responsive emails — leads this Court to conclude that DCS is still not in full compliance with this Court’s Order,” the Thursday order says.

Freese ordered DCS to “produce all responsive emails to or from” Miller and Stigdon by Oct. 19.

Indiana Lawyer has reached out to DCS for comment.

The case — Estate of Judah Morgan, by Jenna Hullett, Personal Representative v. Alan Morgan, 32D01-2301-CT-000004 —involves Judah’s father, who was sentenced to 70 years in prison for the child’s death.

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