In the Matter of M.S.; A Child in Need of Services: A.C. (Mother), Appellant-Respondent,
Indiana Department of Child Services, Appellee-Petitioner.
from the Hendricks Superior Court The Honorable Karen M.
Love, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 32D03-1711-JC-186
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Zachary J. Stock Zachary J. Stock,
Attorney at Law, P.C. Indianapolis, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Robert J. Henke Deputy Attorney General
of the Case
A.C. ("Mother") appeals the trial
court's order determining that her daughter, M.S.
("M.S.") was a Child in Need of Services
("CHINS") based on a petition filed by the
Department of Child Services ("DCS"). Mother
specifically argues that the trial court erred in denying her
motion to dismiss the CHINS case. Mother's motion was
made on the ground that the factfinding hearing was not
completed within the timeframe statutorily mandated by
Indiana Code § 31-34-11-1. Concluding that Mother is
correct that the hearing was not timely completed, we reverse
the trial court's judgment and remand with instructions
to dismiss the CHINS case without prejudice.
We reverse and remand with instructions.
the trial court erred in denying Mother's motion to
dismiss the CHINS case.
M.S. was born in November 2011. In November 2017, DCS filed a
petition alleging that M.S. was a CHINS. At the beginning of
the December 13, 2017 CHINS factfinding hearing, the trial
court pointed out that the hearing had to be concluded
"within 120 days of the date of filing." (Tr. Vol.
2 at 25). DCS asked the trial court to continue the hearing,
and the trial court pointed out that the hearing had to be
completed by March 15. The trial court rescheduled the
hearing for February 23, 2018.
In January 2018, Mother filed a request for production of
documents from the Danville Police Department. The police
department responded to Mother's motion with a motion to
quash because the documents related to the investigation that
gave rise to the CHINS petition. The trial court held a
hearing on the motions on February 16 and ordered the police
department to provide Mother with the requested documents.
Also at the hearing, Mother requested a continuance of the
February 23 factfinding hearing and asked the parties to
waive the one-hundred and twenty (120) day statutory period
in which to complete the CHINS hearing that had started in
December 2017. The trial court granted the continuance.
The factfinding hearing was completed in April 2018, and the
trial court adjudicated M.S. to be a CHINS in October 2018.
At the October 2018 dispositional hearing, Mother asked the
trial court to dismiss the CHINS case because the factfinding
hearing had not been held within one-hundred and twenty days
of the filing of the CHINS petition. In support of her
request, Mother cited Matter of T.T., 110 N.E.3d
441, 443 (Ind.Ct.App. 2018), which had been decided that
month and held that the statutory timeframe set forth ...