ILNews

Ruling: Magistrate improperly heard support case assigned to special judge

Dave Stafford
September 30, 2013
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A father whose lawyer was surprised to see a magistrate presiding at his child support modification hearing that had been docketed with a special judge won a new hearing from the Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday.

In William A. Asher v. Stephanie J. Coomler 49A04-1302-DR-71, William Asher was ordered to pay 78 percent of the educational expenses for his daughter after Magistrate Kimberly Mattingly conducted a hearing in Marion Superior Court. Asher’s attorney had objected to Mattingly presiding. Special Judge S.K. Reid had been selected to hear the matter under Trial Rule 79 after Asher had moved for a special judge.
 
 “By the express terms of T.R. 79(I)(2)(a), only a judge pro tempore, temporary judge, a senior judge appointed by Judge Reid could preside under such circumstances. Further, T.R. 79(I)(2)(b) is inapplicable since Judge Reid was the regular judge of Civil Division 14 at the time of hearing. Because a magistrate is not within the class of judicial officers specified in T.R. 79(I)(2), Magistrate Mattingly could not preside at the hearing,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote for the panel that included Judge James Kirsch and Chief Judge Margret Robb.

“Because Father objected to Magistrate Mattingly presiding over the case at the first hearing, no further objections were required,” Riley wrote. “Therefore, the Order is without legal effect. … Accordingly, we reverse and remand with instructions to the trial court to permit the parties to select a successor special judge in accordance with the procedures specified in T.R. 79(I)(1).”

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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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