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. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

  2. Steele did more than what is listed too. He purposely sought out to ruin me, calling potential employers and then lied about me alleging all kinds of things including kidnapping. None of his allegations were true. If you are in need of an ethical and very knowledgeable family law paralegal, perhaps someone could post their contact information. Ethics cannot be purchased, either your paralegal has them or they do not.

  3. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise