Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court denies transfer in Child Services expedited review
In the opinion in D.S. v. State of Indiana, issued August 10th, Judge May wrote:
The Indiana Department of Child Services (“IDCS”) seeks expedited review, pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 14.1, of the Madison Superior Court’s modified dispositional order placing D.S., a juvenile adjudicated to be a delinquent, in an out-of-state shelter care facility contrary to the IDCS’s placement recommendation. We affirm. * * *In this Order, issued August 24th, the Supreme Court unanimously denies the IDCS's petition to transfer.
The court concluded IDCS’s placement recommendations were contrary to D.S.’s best interests. It placed D.S. in the Rite of Passage program and supported its order with specific factual findings based on ample evidence of D.S.’s history of drug abuse, gang affiliation, and expulsion from school, D.S.’s athletic and leadership abilities, his family relationships, his wishes and those of his mother, and the Probation Department’s formal recommendation. The trial court’s findings support its placement decision. We therefore cannot conclude that the trial court committed clear error in ordering that D.S. be placed in the Rite of Passage program.
Chief Justice Shepard adds to the transfer a statement on the new expedited review procedure:
This expedited appeal procedure was crafted through superb collaboration by all three branches of our government to provide protection from potential excessive spending in placement of abused, neglected, or delinquent children. Through the first eight months of this undertaking, two such appeals have reached us. * * *The earlier expedited review case was D.M. v. State of Indiana, from June 10th. In both cases, the trial judge's decision re placement was affirmed.
In this case, the trial judge has been appealed for choosing the least expensive placement.
The Department has urged that the judge be commanded to place the child in one of several Indiana facilities, the cheapest of which will cost 50% more per day than the one in Arizona which all the remaining players, including the Prosecuting Attorney, think can provide the best chance to divert the juvenile from delinquency to a more successful life. That is, after all, the point of government intervention.
I stand fully ready to smack down anything that even sniffs of judicial overreaching or overspending. But if the appeals we have seen so far represent the worst instances of attacks on the public fisc, it suggests to me that judges, prosecutors, probation departments, and guardians are acting very responsibly.
Not only has there been dispute about which branch of government has ultimate authority in these placement issues, but also about what level of government must pay the expenses of out-of-state placements. In this regard, see this ILB entry from August 10th, headed "Apparently there are all sorts of surprises in the special session budget," discussing a footnote in D.S. about a new change in the language re the responsibility of the IDCS for to pay for placements outside Indiana.