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Indiana Supreme Court: Court Addresses Driver Stop, Expedited Appeal Of Juvenile Court Orders
Posted in Litigation

On Friday, April 17, the Indiana Supreme Court issued two opinions.

In Bannister v. State, the Court affirmed the conviction of a motorist whose driving privileges had previously been suspended for life.  In this case, the arresting officer was parked in his vehicle when Bannister’s truck passed in front of him (the opinion does not refer to any illegal activity noticed at the time the officer first saw the truck).  The officer followed the truck, ran a license plate check, and discovered that the driving privileges of the vehicle’s registered owner (Bannister) had been suspended for life.  The check also provided a description of Bannister as a 5-foot-7, 165-pound male – which the officer concluded was a close match to the driver he saw in the truck.

The Court held, unanimously, that this combination of factors gave the officer a reasonable suspicion that the vehicle was being driven illegally – which it was – and that the stop of Bannister did not violate the Fourth Amendment. In its second opinion Friday, Matter of T.S., the Indiana Supreme Court addressed for the first time the operation of Appellate Rule 14.1, which provides for expedited appellate review of certain juvenile court placement decisions.  In T.S., the juvenile court rejected a Department of Child Services (“DCS”) request to modify a placement order and return T.S. to his mother’s custody immediately.  The juvenile court concluded that the better course would be to leave him in foster care until at least the end of the school year. 

The DCS appealed pursuant to Rule 14.1, which raised the threshold issue of whether the juvenile court’s order fit within that Rule.  The Indiana Supreme Court held that Rule 14.1 “appeals are available to the process of modifying dispositional decrees regarding child placement where a juvenile court does not follow DCS’s recommendation.” The Court explained that Rule 14.1 applies to orders entered under Indiana Code section 31-34-19-6.1(f), and that the juvenile court’s order arose from a modification hearing within the scope of that section.

The Court also held that a clearly erroneous standard of appellate review applies to such juvenile court decisions, pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 52, rejecting the DCS’s argument that its placement recommendation should be given deference on appeal.  Applying this standard, the Court concluded that the juvenile court’s placement determination in this case should be affirmed.

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