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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 today (and 9 NFP)

For publication opinions today (2):

In In re the Adoption of: J.T.D. & J.S. (Minor Children), Children to be Adopted, and N.E. (Prospective Adoptive Parent) v. Indiana Department of Child Services , an 11-page opinion, Judge Mathias writes:

This appeal involves a jurisdictional issue arising from the Lake County Courts. The minor children at issue are wards of the Department of Child Services (“DCS”) and proceedings are pending in Lake County Juvenile Court for the involuntary termination of parental rights regarding the children. N.E., the children’s former foster parent, attempted to intervene in those proceedings, but her petition was denied. Thereafter, N.E. filed a petition to adopt the children in Lake County Superior Court. DCS sought to intervene in the adoption proceedings, or in the alternative, requested that N.E.’s petition to adopt be transferred to the Juvenile Court. The Lake County Superior Court denied the DCS’s motions. The DCS appeals and argues that the Lake County Superior Court was required to transfer N.E.’s adoption petition to the Juvenile Court pursuant to the Lake County Case Allocation Plan. However, pursuant to statute, the Civil Division of the Lake County Court System, which includes the Lake Superior Court, has exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate adoption petitions and therefore, we affirm, concluding that the Lake Superior Court properly denied DCS’s motion to transfer. * * *

“A tribunal receives subject matter jurisdiction over a class of cases only from the constitution or from statutes.” Georgetown Bd. of Zoning Appeals v. Keele, 743 N.E.2d 301, 303 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001). Our General Assembly has statutorily conferred jurisdiction of adoption proceedings exclusively to probate courts. In Lake County, the Civil Division has probate jurisdiction, and therefore, exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over adoption proceedings. DCS may not rely on local court rule, i.e. the Caseload Allocation Plan, to circumvent the Lake County Civil Division’s exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over adoption proceedings.[3] For all of these reasons, we conclude that the Lake Superior Court properly denied the DCS’s motion to transfer this case to the Lake County Juvenile Court.
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[3] DCS observes that the Juvenile Court has adjudicated hundreds of adoption proceedings under the Caseload Allocation Plan. DCS complains that our holding will potentially place those adoptions at risk. This opinion addresses only the challenge of N.E. The finality of prior and pending adoption proceedings in the Juvenile Court has not been challenged and we do not address those proceedings.

In Kimberly D. Blankenship v. State of Indiana , a 13-page opinion with a separate concurring opinion, Judge Najam writes:
Kimberly D. Blankenship appeals her convictions for unlawful possession of a syringe, as a Class D felony, and maintaining a common nuisance, a Class D felony. Blankenship raises a single issue for our review, which we restate as whether the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted into evidence contraband found in Blankenship’s hotel room that the police seized pursuant to a search warrant. We hold that the officers’ reliance on the search warrant was objectively reasonable under Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution and, as such, any defect in probable cause underlying the warrant does not render the evidence inadmissible under the exclusionary rule. Thus, we affirm the trial court’s admission of the evidence. * * *

On appeal, Blankenship argues that the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted into evidence the items seized from her hotel room. * * *

In particular, Blankenship asserts that Dasko’s [police dog] sniff-search of the hotel’s hallways violated Blankenship’s rights under Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. * * *

In sum, we need not reach Blankenship’s argument that Article 1, Section 11 prohibited the officers from walking canine units in the common area of the hotel, at the hotel management’s request, absent reasonable suspicion. The officers searched Blankenship’s hotel room while objectively and reasonably relying on a search warrant. There is no evidence that the officers had knowledge, or should be charged with knowledge, that the sniff-search in the hallway may have been unconstitutional. Accordingly, there is no “wrongful police conduct” to deter, and suppression of the evidence under the exclusionary rule would not be appropriate in light of the facts and circumstances of this case. See Shotts, 925 N.E.2d at 724. As such, we affirm the trial court’s admission of the evidence. Affirmed.

CRONE, J., concurs.
BAKER, J., concurs in result with separate opinion. [that begins, at p. 11 of 13] I agree that the trial court properly admitted the contraband seized from Blankenship’s hotel room into evidence. However, I part ways with the majority’s need to discuss the notion that the officers’ search was justified because they “acted in good faith” when executing the search warrant and searching Blankenship’s hotel room.

NFP civil opinions today (4):

Arafat Isa v. Catherine A. Adams, Christopher J. Perry, and State Farm Insurance Company (NFP)

Personal Resource Management, Inc., and Margaret A. Ditteon v. Evanston Insurance Company (NFP)

Tasha Ensley, et al. v. Veterans of Foreign Wars, et al. (NFP)

In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: K.S. (Minor Child), and W.W. (Father) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (5):

Steven Cox v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Ty Wilkerson v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Kaneka S. Kidd v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Richard W. Tome v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Miguel A. Lazcano v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 12, 2014 11:02 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions