ILNews

Ruling: Magistrate improperly heard support case assigned to special judge

Dave Stafford
September 30, 2013
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A father whose lawyer was surprised to see a magistrate presiding at his child support modification hearing that had been docketed with a special judge won a new hearing from the Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday.

In William A. Asher v. Stephanie J. Coomler 49A04-1302-DR-71, William Asher was ordered to pay 78 percent of the educational expenses for his daughter after Magistrate Kimberly Mattingly conducted a hearing in Marion Superior Court. Asher’s attorney had objected to Mattingly presiding. Special Judge S.K. Reid had been selected to hear the matter under Trial Rule 79 after Asher had moved for a special judge.
 
 “By the express terms of T.R. 79(I)(2)(a), only a judge pro tempore, temporary judge, a senior judge appointed by Judge Reid could preside under such circumstances. Further, T.R. 79(I)(2)(b) is inapplicable since Judge Reid was the regular judge of Civil Division 14 at the time of hearing. Because a magistrate is not within the class of judicial officers specified in T.R. 79(I)(2), Magistrate Mattingly could not preside at the hearing,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote for the panel that included Judge James Kirsch and Chief Judge Margret Robb.

“Because Father objected to Magistrate Mattingly presiding over the case at the first hearing, no further objections were required,” Riley wrote. “Therefore, the Order is without legal effect. … Accordingly, we reverse and remand with instructions to the trial court to permit the parties to select a successor special judge in accordance with the procedures specified in T.R. 79(I)(1).”

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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