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COA affirms remand to prior judge over father’s objection

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A special judge appointed in a paternity case ruled correctly that matters in the case remanded by the Court of Appeals should be heard by the prior judge who heard the evidence, the appellate court held in a second appeal on the matter.

In In re the Paternity of V.A., (Minor Child), R.A. v. B.Y., 39A04-1310-JP-512, father R.A. requested a change of judge under Trial Rule 76(B), which was granted. He appealed a prior trial court ruling to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings.

Jefferson Circuit Special Judge James B. Morris took the case after Judge Ted Todd granted father’s change-of-judge motion. When Morris received the matter on remand, he ruled that Trial Rule 63(A) requires a judge who hears evidence to make all rulings relating to that evidence.

“On appeal, Father contends that Trial Rules 76(B) and 63(A) conflict, and his right to a change of judge under Trial Rule 76(B) trumps Trial Rule 63(A)’s preference for the judge who heard the evidence,” Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote for the panel. “We conclude that the rules do not conflict; rather, they govern different aspects of Father’s case —  Father’s change-of-judge request under Trial Rule 76(B) applies prospectively to his modification petition, and Trial Rule 63(A) operates retroactively to ensure that the remanded issues are considered by the judge who heard the evidence, Judge Todd. We affirm.”

A separate appellate panel heard another appeal from the same case, affirming Morris’ denial of father’s motion to correct error and an order reinstating his visitation time with a child he had in 2003. He and the child’s mother never married, and their relationship ended in 2011.

In In Re: The Paternity of V.A., a Minor Child, R.A. Father v. B.Y., Mother, 39A01-1307-JP-304, as prior appeals were pending, father filed a motion to modify support and custody the same day that Morris assumed jurisdiction. Morris denied the motion on the basis that he lacked jurisdiction to rule.

“(W)e cannot hold the court abused its discretion when it denied Father’s motion to correct error,” Judge Melissa May wrote for the panel in this appeal. “We accordingly affirm the denial of Father’s Motion to Correct Error regarding the dismissal of his petition to modify custody and support.”
 

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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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