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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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