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Indiana

November 19, 2012

On the Case:

Consultation with HSLDA Prevents Court Hearing


Senior Counsel Jim Mason is a member of HSLDA’s litigation team, which helps homeschool families who are facing legal challenges. He and his wife homeschool.
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Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in Indiana. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

In October, lifetime members Nate and Joan Heric called Home School Legal Defense Association to discuss an unexpected summons they had received for a court hearing.

Earlier that month, two caseworkers from the Indiana Department of Child Services visited the Herics’ home to investigate an anonymous allegation of unsafe living conditions. As the president of a local multiples club for parents of twins and triplets, Joan Heric was temporarily keeping the remaining materials from the club’s tag sale on the family’s porch while the storage trailer was being repaired. The Herics believed that the anonymous tipster saw the boxes on their porch and called social services.

Since the investigators did not know the family’s names and initially showed no identification, Mrs. Heric was not convinced they were state authorities. Using their Fourth Amendment rights, the Herics declined the investigators’ request to enter their house.

Constitutional Protection

Shortly afterward, the Herics were summoned for a court hearing. Because the investigators had not been able to enter the house, they wanted a judge to order the family to cooperate completely with any of their demands, including a home investigation and interviewing some of their six children.

HSLDA’s contact attorney Tj Schmidt and senior litigation attorney Jim Mason worked together to obtain the dismissal of the court case. Attorney Schmidt arranged for the investigators to meet the Herics, who were represented by HSLDA’s local counsel.

Although the investigators had initially refused to dismiss the case, after meeting with the parents they dropped their demands for interviews and requested that the court dismiss the case. The investigation closed and the Herics were never required to appear before the judge.