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Molester’s imprisonment alone insufficient to bar contact with son

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Serving 50 years in prison for conviction of eight counts of Class A felony child molesting, a count of Class C felony child molesting and Class C felony criminal confinement is insufficient by itself for a court to rule an incarcerated father may not have phone or mail contact with his child, a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Myron Jay Rickman filed a pro se appeal of Grant Circuit Judge Mark Spitzer’s denial of a petition for modification of visitation and denial of his motion to correct error, and won at least a procedural victory. The appellate panel sent the matter back to the trial court and ordered the judge to issue findings of facts on the ruling or grant a hearing.
 
The Court of Appeals opinion in Myron Jay Rickman v. Sheila Rena Rickman, 27A02-1211-DR-950, notes that Rickman was convicted for offenses that did not involve his child. Rickman asked the appeals court to instruct the trial court to conduct an in camera interview with his son, now 16, to determine his desire to have communication with his father.

The panel didn’t do that, but it did reverse the court’s denial in some measure because the child’s mother, Sheila Rena Rickman, did not file an appellate brief.

Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the court that a chronological case summary entry in the matter stated only that Rickman’s petition was denied without hearing and that Rickman was incarcerated on child molesting charges.

“That statement is factual and does not constitute a sufficient written explanation indicating why the petition was denied or whether it was denied pursuant to Ind. Code § 31-17-4-2, or whether the court considered the Parenting Time Guidelines,” Brown wrote for the panel.

“In either event, a factual basis and a finding as to potential endangerment of (the son’s) physical health or safety or significant impairment of his emotional development are necessary. If on remand, the trial court determines the Guidelines to be applicable, it must then proffer an explanation for its departure from the Guidelines. Thus, the trial court must reflect upon the best interests of the child and the possible consequences of its departure from the provisions of Indiana Parenting Time Guideline I(A). Doing so would enable us to thoroughly and appropriately review the trial court’s deviation and the reasons behind it,” Brown wrote.

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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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