« Ind. Courts - Statistics available from Indiana Supreme Court and Indiana trial courts | Main | Ind. Courts - "A former Madison attorney set to go to trial next week took a plea deal Wednesday" »

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 opinion(s) today (and 3 NFP memorandum decision(s))

For publication opinions today (2):

In In re the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of A.W. and G.S.: H.S. (Mother) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, a 15-page opinion, Chief Judge Vaidik writes:

H.S. (“Mother”) and G.S. (“Father”) are married and have one child together, G.A.S. Mother has a second child, A.W., from a prior relationship. Mother and Father have raised both children together. After Mother and Father were arrested at the same time, the Department of Child Services (“DCS”) took the children and eventually placed them in foster care. DCS filed petitions to terminate the parental rights of both Mother and Father to their respective children. At the time of the termination hearings, Mother was incarcerated for a drug offense and scheduled to be released in seven months. She and Father both testified that they intend to remain together and live together once Mother is released from prison. The trial court concluded that Mother’s rights to A.W. and G.A.S. should be terminated, but Father’s rights to G.A.S. should not be terminated. The trial court made no mention of the fact that Mother would be living with Father, and therefore G.A.S., despite the termination order. Mother appeals.

We find that the trial court’s decision to terminate Mother’s rights knowing she will be living with G.A.S. is incongruous with and antithetical to the trial court’s finding that the conditions that resulted in the removal of A.W. and G.A.S. from Mother will not be remedied. That contradiction, together with Mother’s efforts in prison to better herself, lead us to conclude that DCS failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that there is a reasonable probability that the conditions that resulted in A.W.’s and G.A.S.’s removal from Mother will not be remedied. Accordingly, we reverse. * * *

Despite all of this testimony, the trial court still concluded that A.W. and G.A.S. should be separated; A.W. is to be placed for adoption, and G.A.S. is to be returned to the care of his Father. We conclude that DCS has failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that terminating Mother’s rights to A.W. and G.A.S., thus separating the children, is in their best interests. Reversed.

In William C. Williams v. State of Indiana , a 10-page opinion concerning chain of custody, Chief Judge Vaidik writes:
William C. Williams was charged with two counts of Class B felony operating a vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance in his blood causing death. One count was based on having marijuana in his blood, and the other count was based on having methamphetamine in his blood. The jury convicted Williams of both counts. Williams now appeals his methamphetamine-related conviction only. Specifically, Williams contends that the State failed to establish a chain of custody for his blood sample so as to allow the admission of the results showing that his blood sample tested positive for methamphetamine. In order to establish the chain of custody for Williams’ blood sample, the State relied heavily on Exhibit 65, which the trial court admitted under the businessrecords exception to the hearsay rule. Williams, however, claims that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting Exhibit 65 because the State did not properly authenticate it.

We agree that the State did not properly authenticate Exhibit 65 either by a certification that complied with Indiana Evidence Rule 902(11) or by a records custodian who testified that the records were made at or near the time by—or from information transmitted by—someone with knowledge and that they were kept by the lab in the ordinary course of business. Without Exhibit 65, the State cannot establish the chain of custody for the sample of Williams’ blood that tested positive for methamphetamine. We therefore reverse Williams’ conviction based on having methamphetamine in his blood. * * *

Anticipating our conclusion that the State failed to establish the chain of custody for Williams’ blood sample, the State “requests that [we] affirm Williams’ conviction on count I, causing death when operating a motor vehicle with” marijuana in his blood. Appellee’s Br. p. 20 n.9. Accordingly, we reverse Williams’ conviction on Count II, which is based on the methamphetamine evidence, and affirm Williams’ conviction on Count I, which is based on the unchallenged marijuana evidence.

NFP civil decisions today (0):

NFP criminal decisions today (3):

Chandler Turner v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Charles Alexander v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Bryant Dowdy v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 10, 2016 11:05 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions