Mom loses appeal bid to remove judge in parenting time dispute

April 18, 2018

An Allen County mother who appealed the denial of her motion for a change of judge in a parenting-time dispute got no relief Wednesday from the Indiana Court of Appeals.

The COA affirmed the trial court, finding the motion was properly denied in In Re: The Matter of the Paternity of S.R.W., By Next Friend, Michele Renee Bessette, a/k/a Michele Renee Wright Bessette, a/k/a Michele Renee Wright v. Bradley Turflinger, 02A05-1711-JP-2778.

Mother and father in this case share joint custody of a 17-year-old who lives with her mother in Indiana and whose father lives in Minnesota. The case has involved multiple parenting time disputes, disagreements over support, and contempt proceedings resulting in contempt citations against mother that have previously reached the Court of Appeals. The trial court in January 2017 denied mother’s request under Indiana Trial Rule 76(C)(3) for a third judge in the case. The court also dismissed father’s motion to reinstate mother’s jail sentence for contempt.

“Although we question whether Mother’s interlocutory appeal is proper, even if it is allowable, her argument that she was entitled to a change of judge fails,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote for the panel,which on remand did not order a new trial or further hearings.

“The fact that the trial court had to consider new motions that were filed during or after the appeal is irrelevant to the question of whether Mother was entitled to a change of judge under Trial Rule 76(C)(3). Trial Rule 76(C)(3) allows a change of judge only where a new trial is ordered or the trial court is required to reconsider all or some of the issues heard during the earlier trial,” Barnes wrote. Consideration of new motions will not mandate a change of judge under the rule. We conclude that the trial court properly denied Mother’s motion for change of judge.”



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