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. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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