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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ind. Law - Bill would restore power of prosecutors

From an editorial today by Tracy Warner of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

Over the last several years, state laws and policies have changed to increase the power of the state executive branch’s Department of Child Services at the expense of local judicial branch officials. Two northeast Indiana lawmakers are behind a bill moving through this year’s General Assembly that would give a little power back to the judicial system.

Senate Bill 164
would allow a county prosecutor to file a Child In Need of Services (CHINs) petition with a local juvenile court. The petition is the first step in bringing court review of allegations that a child is being mistreated by a parent or guardian. Just as important, it would allow the prosecutor rather than the DCS to represent the state.

That prosecutors don’t now have that explicit power is mind-boggling, making the bill a no-brainer. But the motivation is part of the ongoing back and forth between court and officials and the DCS. Numerous officials, lawyers and child advocates believe that in the past several years, DCS has tended to push case resolutions that are of the lowest cost to the state rather than in the best interest of abused or neglected children.

Travis Holdman of Markle is the co-author of the Senate bill, which passed that chamber 49-0. Rep. Kevin Mahan of Hartford City is the sponsor in the House, where the bill passed second reading Monday. The bill was one of the recommendations of an interim study commission on the DCS that Holdman co-chaired.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 19, 2013 12:27 PM
Posted to Indiana Law