ILNews

Blanket recusal comes in Vanderburgh child-support case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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Every so often, judges find they must recuse themselves in certain cases. That's happening in Vanderburgh County, where all the superior judges have been recused from a case involving the child support matters of a magistrate's son.

Suzanne Hebert Hamilton is waging the child support legal battle against her ex-husband, Richard Hamilton, who is son of Vanderburgh Superior Magistrate Allen Hamilton. The couple separated in 2005 and finalized a divorce early last year. She lives in Florida with the couple's two children and in May 2006 asked Vanderburgh Superior Judge Robert Pigman to enforce a contempt order from Florida that Richard Hamilton owed $25,000 in back child support.

In June, Judge Pigman recused himself because of a conflict of interest - he supervises magistrates.

"Recusal in the face of criticism is a particularly uninviting option for this court; however, given the nature and the circumstances surrounding the particular case, the court feels it is in the best interest of both parties that a fresh set of eyes examine the evidence," Judge Pigman wrote in his June 28 order.

The following day, Superior Judge Wayne Trockman recused all of the county superior judges in the case. A hearing was canceled last week to determine if Hamilton was making progress on child support payments, according to the local clerk's office. The Indiana Supreme Court has yet to assign a special judge.
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  1. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

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  3. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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