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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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