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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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