Judicial face-off in court

June 29, 2009
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Today’s post is written by reporter Mike Hoskins.

Litigation can get heated enough between lawyers and litigants on opposing sides, but rarely does a case get to the level of having two judges at odds in how a case has been handled.

That’s what is happening in St. Joseph County, a place where the judiciary in the past two years has faced a barrage of attacks by those wanting to do away with merit selection of most Superior judges. Voters there elect only two jurists; now those two – Circuit Judge Michael Gotsch and Probate and Juvenile Judge Peter Nemeth – are squaring off. Judge Gotsch has ordered Judge Nemeth to appear in court Thursday to explain why a 17-year-old boy hasn’t been released from a foster home and returned to his father, who wants custody of his son.

Court records show Judge Nemeth denied the father-son reunion request after social workers had said the father wouldn’t sign a “safety plan,” requiring in-home visits by the DCS and an agreement for them to attend family counseling. Judge Gotsch issued his order after the custody-seeking man filed a writ of habeas corpus petition. A local DCS official and a foster parent have also been summoned.

Attorneys are debating whether Judge Gotsch has authority to order Judge Nemeth into court, but the writ does include language that would make it possible for an arrest warrant to be issued for the Probate judge – essentially forcing him to attend the hearing.

But the teenager isn’t shying away from attending, according to reports on the case. He filed his own motion late last week, asking that he be allowed to attend the hearing to speak.

“I wish to waive my right and privilege of confidentiality and privacy in this matter, and I do so that the courtroom may be open for the world to see what a scam the State of Indiana is running,” the teen wrote. “In sum, I don’t mind being the poster boy for what is so wrong about my experiences with these state actors.”
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  • The Circuit Court record in the habeas corpus proceeding shows that the CHINS proceedings in the Probate Court lacked legal sufficiency from the get-go.

    Judge Gotsch has already assumed jurisdiction and issued the Writ commanding the respondents to appear and show cause, if any they have .......

    Thus far all the respondents have done is insult the integrity of justice.

    Cases like these do absolutely nothing for the public\'s confidence in the integrity of a once fine and proud institution.

    sheeesh
  • Kudos to Circuit Judge Michael Gotsch!!!
  • Has anything transpired since June 2009 on this case?

    Great PR for the Child Protection INDUSTRY.
  • See Honkforkids.com for more cases of abuse by the state
  • Greg -- Thank you for your interest and posting.

    The issues arising under the Habeas Corpus action are pending on appeal. The child welfare case itself was terminated on September 2, 2009. The family has been re-united and they are enjoying the Christmas season together.

    Merry Christmas to you, your family and all those reading.

    A very special thanks to author Barbara Johnson for stopping by to post and show her support for the issues --- For those who may not know, Barabra has written an excellent book addressing this and other critical legal issues and I hope everyone finds a copy of her book in their Christmans stocking. It is a must read for every advocate of justice.

    [Barb\'s book can be purchased here -- http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_0_22?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=behind+the+black+robes+failed+justice&sprefix=Behind+the+Black+Robes]

    In close, another special thanks to the staff and membership of honkforkids ... keep up the good works, and Merry Christmas to you all.

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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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