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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  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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