Monday, September 28, 2009

Indiana Child Support Amendments - Pt III

2015 Indiana Child Support Guidelines
review scheduled for public comment

This is my third posting in a series that I am doing on the Amendments to the Indiana Child Support Guidelines that will take effect 01 January 2010. Part II covered the issue of the dissent of opinion in this cause which demonstrated the bias that remains in some of our Supreme Court justices.

III - Changes in computing support
Definition of weekly gross income
Imputed income
Adjustment to weekly gross income
Minimum support

Haase v. Roehrscheid, 6 Ind. 66, 68 (1854) “[i]t is the duty of a father to support and educate his minor children”. It has long been held by Indiana's highest court that a man has a duty to support an educate his children. This was reaffirmed by the Court in 2007. In this section on the amended Indiana Child Support Guidelines I am examining what is income, what's the minimum a noncustodial parent is obligated to pay and what adjustments can and should be made to the parent's income.

I am pleased to say that, although the Guidelines do not provide for a realistic level of child support payments, the Guidelines are moving back towards the duty of a father to educate his children and provide support.

Definition of weekly gross income

The definition of income has long included just about everything except using pennies from the tray at the convenience store. The current guidelines include gifts, prizes, inheritance and gambling winnings. This is one of the reasons I recommend that anyone paying court ordered child support not support any lottery, raffle, gaming or other types of gambling. Many states no have laws allowing for the interception of state lottery funds to be applied towards a child support arrears. This is a lose-lose situation. Not only are you out the money you spent on lottery tickets but you support payment amount could be increased because of your higher income.

Another thing that is a whole subject on its own is inheritance. It would be wise to have your parents or whomever has named you as a beneficiary establish a trust for your benefit. One thing you don't want to have happen is that a parent dies and leaves a large inheritance, i.e. income, to you which result in your support payment order being adjusted upward. You'll have to wait at least a year and for a substantial change, such as that person dying again and leaving less to you, for you to get a downward modification.

An addition to the Guidelines is that Social Security disability benefits paid for the benefit of the child must be included in the parent's gross income. The disabled parent is entitled to a credit for the amount of the Social Security disability benefits paid for the benefit of the child. This means that instead of the common practice of support being a pass-through the disability will now be considered the parent's income and a credit for support paid.

Imputed income

There is a valid and justifiable reason to sometimes impute the income a person could be making. A parent works for 15 years at the same job and one week after getting a support order based upon that income quits and goes to work at a convenience store for 1/4 the wages. There the court should impute the income at the prior level.

Take the same person in the same situation working at the family business as he has since dropping out of high school. Suddenly the business files bankruptcy and is liquidated. The court then imputes income at the same rate family was paying this person with no high school diploma and no other job experience. It is wrong for the court to do that.

Take my situation when my support was first figured. I spend two weeks acquiring, photographing and listing items on ebay. I spend two weeks selling the items. Finally I spend two weeks processing payments, packaging and shipping or delivering the items. The court determines that I could do the three separate things simultaneously in the same volume or frequency. The court also concluded that I could avoid paying ebay their fees and that those fees should not offset the income. The court then imputed my income at over three times what it actually was and ordered that I pay 99.7% of my disposable income in support for one child. That was clearly wrong for the court to do.

I brought my situation to the attention of the guidelines committee as did many others with similar stories. Somehow they listened to us. They have added some commentary to the Guidelines that address these issues.

Following the portion which states that another purpose for imputing income is to fairly allocate support when one parent remarries and chooses not to be employed. "However, attributing potential income that results in an unrealistic child support obligation may cause the accumulation of an excessive arrearage, and be contrary to the best interest of the child(ren). Research shows than on average more noncustodial parent involvement is associated with greater child education attainment and lower juvenile delinquency. Ordering support for low-income parents at levels they can reasonably pay may improve parent-child contact; and in turn, the outcomes for their children.

The commentary further cautions that "Discretion must be exercised on an individual case basis to determine whether under the circumstances there is just cause to attribute potential income to a particular unemployed or underemployed parent.

There are two additional factors added to be used in determining imputed income. The first is if the parent is unable to obtain employment because of exceptional circumstances such as a mental illness, other health issue, caring for a disabled child or child care costs make it prohibitive. The second is when the parent is incarcerated.

The Indiana Supreme Court altered long-standing case law in regards to incarcerated parents and imputed income in Lambert v Lambert. The court opined that it is inappropriate to impute an incarcerated parent's pre-incarceration income during the time of incarceration based upon incarceration being voluntarily unemployed. Although some states allow for incarceration to allow for an automatic abatement of support under the Absolute Justification Rule others such as Indiana have viewed breaking the law as being a voluntary action and any resulting unemployment from incarceration as being voluntarily unemployed. In Lambert the Court said, "The choice to commit a crime is so far removed from the decision to avoid child support obligations that it is inappropriate to consider them as identical."

The Court concluded that while incarcerated the parent's income resulting therefrom should be considered in setting support.

One section was also tweaked a bit which is worth noting. "[P]otential income may be determined based upon such factors as the parent's unemployment compensation, job capabilities, education and whether other employment is available." Previously the Guidelines stated the potential income was based upon some factors. Now it may be "determined" based upon those factors. This means that it no longer has to be based on those factors but essentially that those factors can be considered to determined the amount of support.

Also, unemployment compensation was added. This would allow for support to be based upon unemployment compensation rather than imputing income based upon the prior income.

Finally, the consideration of whether employment is available replaced "if" employment was available. This is very subtle but can significantly affect the support amount. "If" is as absolute as day and night. It's almost like saying if the sun is shining versus whether you are in the sunlight. If there are ads in the newspaper then employment is available. Whether employment is available ask if you can get the job.

Adjustment to weekly gross income

This portion has not changed in substance but in wording. The section was wiped out and replaced with clearer language. The percentage adjustments for subsequent children are the same. Now it is a deduction of .065 rather than a multiplying factor of .935. Support obligation of both parents is to be calculated with adjustments to each for children born or adopted subsequent to the prior support order.

Adjustment for health care costs has been removed. Health care is an exclusive section that will be analyzed later.

Minimum support level

The Indiana Guidelines had recommended that minimum child support payment orders be set at $25 per week. One problem in setting this minimum is that it does not take into consideration that the NCP may not be able to afford that amount. As an example let's say the parents have the children exactly half the time each. The mother is designated as the custodial parent. She earns $198 per week while father earns $202. If these were married parents and they spent 25% of their household income on the child then that would be $49.50 for mother and $50.50 for father. Assuming they were each responsible for buying equal amounts of goods for the child, just as in 50/50 custody then that difference of one dollar divided by the two would mean father owes mother $.50. They would each be spending $50 on goods for the child.

Get divorced though and the guidelines change that. Father would pay to mother $25 giving her $74.50 to spend while leaving father with only $25.50 to spend. Yet, each is to buy the same things. That means the father would have to sacrifice spending on himself to instead buy for the child. Mother would then have extra money to spend on herself. This is a manifest injustice.

The Guideline revisions now provide that the court may consider $12 as a minimum. This would still be an injustice in our described situation. The Guidelines do provide that there are situations where the support order may be zero. One is when the NCP has significant parenting time. The Guidelines are also modified to require that a numeric amount of child support shall be ordered.

There is only one reason that can justify entering a child support payment order of $0.00. That is so the clerk's office can collect a $55 per year support fee. Why the Supreme Court feels that a parent who can't afford to pay $1 per week can afford to pay more for a court fee is astonishing.

The Guideline revisions also took away the discretion of judges to order a "specific amount of child support" such as one bag of diapers, two cans of formula and etc per week. Instead judges are now required to enter a numeric amount. It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court has sought to remove the NCP from having more active involvement with the child to being nothing but an ATM even if it does not pay out.

The court provided some reasons that would justify a $0 support order. These include a parent with a mental or physical disability, who is incarcerated, is caring for a disabled child or parent, has a high parenting time credit or has been affected by a natural disaster.

Most states have set their minimum monthly child support at $50 or $12 per week. Economic data suggests that $100 weekly income, which is half of the Federal poverty guideline, is not enough for a parent to live at subsistence level. The Indiana Guidelines had set minimum support at $25 for one child and $50 for two. This would represent 25% and 50% of that parent's income.

The previous recommendation that the court set some numeric amount of support even when a parent has no income has been removed.

The 2009 amendment are a substantial change to the current Indiana Child Support Guidelines. These Guidelines will take effect 01 January 2010. Before seeking a modification of support get appropriate counsel so you know if you should wait until after the changes take effect.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Make a suggestion for me to write about.

Parents who would like to achieve the best outcome for their children in a contested child custody case should visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. Attorneys may request a free consultation to learn how I can maximize their advocacy for their clients.

Connect with me for the latest Indiana child custody related policy considerations, findings, court rulings and discussions.

View Stuart Showalter's profile on LinkedIn

Subscribe to my child custody updates

* indicates required
©2008, 2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Indiana Judge Unlawfully Closes Court to the Public

Upon the retirement of former Boone Superior Court II Judge James Detamore in 2005 Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels appointed former Boone County Prosecutor Rebecca McClure to take that position on 01 January 2006. McClure has since been elected to a six year term while running unopposed.

Indiana has no test for judges. There is a requirement that a candidate for judge must have a law degree and have passed the BAR examination. When a judge makes what can be no less than deliberate and conscious violations of the publics' right to access court records one must wonder if a more stringent qualification is necessary.

The Indiana General Assembly has established a policy that our state shall operate openly and accessible to the people. In doing so they have stated - "A fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative government is that government is the servant of the people and not their master. Accordingly, it is the public policy of the state that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and employees. Providing persons with the information is an essential function of a representative government and an integral part of the routine duties of public officials and employees, whose duty it is to provide the information."

What brings about this latest discussion on the openness of the courts is McClure's most recent ruling to deny the public access to a case in her court. In cause number 06D02-0703-OV-0285 McClure made a blanket declaration prior to trial that she believed the Plaintiff's attorney and primary witness.

In a 41 page Motion for Relief from Judgment Pursuant to Rule 60(B) the defendant made accusations that he had been denied procedural due process. The Motion exhaustively cited the court transcript and included 18 supporting documents. Included in the recitation of the transcripts was an argument between the defendant and Judge McClure.

The word-for-word exchange is in the Motion showing that McClure allowed the Plaintiff to use an exhibit that had not been admitted into evidence and told the defendant that he was wrong for objecting to its use. Additionally, the Motion contains numerous other recitations that McClure was fully aware that the proceeding was in violation of due process requirements.

The Motion specifically details how McClure could not have not known of the due process violations and that she made a prejudicial ruling. On 08 September 2009 McClure ordered the Motion sealed denying the public the opportunity to view that pleading.

McClure unlawfully denies the public access to criminal trial

This wasn't the first time McClure has sought to deprive the public of access. In December of 2007 a friend of mine was on trial in McClure's Court. McClure ordered me out of the courtroom for the trial citing a separation of witnesses request by the prosecutor. I was only named as a witness for this purpose and was never called to testify. The prosecutor, once I was ordered out of the courtroom, said I was free to go home as he never intended to call me as a witness. In fact, I had never been served with a subpoena.

That day I filed a request using Indiana's Access to Public Records Act to get a copy of the recordings of the trial. Not for appellate use, since the jury acquitted my friend in well under an hour, but to file a disciplinary complaint against McClure for alleged violations of the Canons of Judicial Conduct during the trial. Prior to trial my friend and I had both been successful in having the Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer charged with misconduct in the case.

McClure wouldn't allow a copy of the trial recording to be made available to me or the public. All the documents and details about that can be seen on the Indiana Coalition for Open Government's website. Briefly though, McClure tried to argue that trial recordings are confidential.

In a response dated 14 December 2007 McClure stated, "Pursuant to I.C. 5-14-3-4(a)(8) and Indiana Rules of Court, Criminal Procedure Rule 5, the record you requested is confidential and can not be disclosed to you." That rule shows that it was last amended effective in 1989 and does not make the recording confidential. Clearly McClure was wrong and I was correct. The Public Access Counselor also agreed with me that the court should allow a copy to be made.

Armed with that information McClure still denied to me the right to make a copy of that proceeding. She specifically stated that I could come listen to the recording but could not bring my own recording equipment and that "You will not be permitted to tape record the proceedings". McClure was sued by me on 01 February 2008 for that violation. The case is still pending in Hamilton Superior Court III.

McClure unlawfully denies the public access to complaints against police

Earlier in 2007 McClure had ordered that I could not use the Access to Public Records Act to seek information from the Town of Thorntown about complaints against police officers for stalking or harassing women in town. One officer had already been ordered to stay away from my neighbor and was not allowed to patrol that end of town.

Although the Town of Thorntown had sued me for placing election related signs in my yard critical of the Town Council that suit was in no way related to a request for public records about window peeping police. The Indiana Court of Appeals clearly affirmed this in the case of Kentner v IPEP stating that they didn't care if Kentner requested the records "to supplement his case in the Federal Litigation, or to paper the walls of his house with and write a song about, has absolutely no bearing on whether he is entitled to those documents." This is well known case law within the courts. Thorntown and Judge McClure have both been sued for that violation also.

McClure may not know this but information about the confidentiality of court proceedings can be found in a document titled "Indiana Court Rules - Administrative Rules". These are the rules that judges are to follow in the administration of the courtrooms. Rule 9 provides the guidance to judges about the confidentiality of court records and includes commentary with examples.

McClure unlawfully denies the public access to case pleadings

Now, getting back to McClure's latest denial of the right of Indiana citizens to access public records we shall first examine the portion of Rule 9 allowing a judge to seal a court record which is section (H);

(H) Prohibiting Public Access to Information In Court Records.
(1) A verified written request to prohibit public access to information in a court record, may be made by any person affected by the release of the information.  The request shall demonstrate that:
(a) The public interest will be substantially served by prohibiting access;
(b) Access or dissemination of the information will create a significant risk of substantial harm to the requestor, other persons or the general public;
(c) A substantial prejudicial effect to on-going proceedings cannot be avoided without prohibiting public access, or;
(d) The information should have been excluded from public access under section (G) of this rule.

Attorney for the Town of Thorntown, Cy Gerde, on 31 August 2009 sought to have the Rule 60(B) Motion sealed alleging that it defamed the Town of Thorntown by mailing such to the Court. That would be section 9(H)(1)(b). I have been told that McClure sealed that Motion on 08 September 2009 within a week of receiving Gerde's Motion to Seal. Rule 9(H) continues;

The person seeking to prohibit access has the burden of providing notice to the parties and such other persons as the court may direct, providing proof of notice to the court or the reason why notice could not or should not be given, demonstrating to the court the requestor’s reasons for prohibiting access to the information.  A party or person to whom notice is given shall have twenty (20) days from receiving notice to respond to the request.

Here is where we encounter "Court Math". This was a theory that Einstein worked on exhaustively but could not formulate the theory in a written equation. It goes something like this - The difference of 8 and 1 is equal to the greater of 20 or more than 20 during such time that the sitting judge feels it is in her best interest for it to be so. Einstein made it about this far: X-Y=>20+a~Jf[g/2] The rule continues;

(2) A court may deny a request to prohibit public access without a hearing.  If the court does not initially deny the request, it shall post advance public notice of the hearing.  A court may grant a request to prohibit public access following a hearing if the requestor demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that any one or more of the requirements of (H)(1)(a) through (H)(1)(d) have been satisfied.  An order prohibiting public access to information in a court record may be issued by the court having jurisdiction over the record.  An order prohibiting public access to information in bulk or compiled records, or in records under the jurisdiction of multiple courts may be issued only by the Supreme Court. 

If you are reading the same words I am then you saw where this rules requires that notice of a hearing be posted. My response characterizes Thorntown's failure to meet the procedural requirements of Rule 9(H). The rule then provides some Commentary;

This section is intended to address those extraordinary circumstances in which information that is otherwise publicly accessible is to be excluded from public access.  This section generally incorporates a presumption of openness, and the need for demonstrating compelling grounds to overcome the presumption.

This is in keeping with the Legislature's stated policy that the functions of government are to be open to the people. Next comes an interesting note;

Parties should be aware that their request is not retroactive.  Copies of the public record may have been disseminated prior to any request, and corrective action taken under the provisions of this rule will not affect those records.

What makes this interesting is that Cy Gerde has prepared a motion to have me held in contempt for posting that Rule 60(B) Motion on the Internet. You may want to download it just in case it does get lawfully sealed. On second thought that really isn't necessary. The Rule 60(B) Motion was uploaded here before it was filed with the Court.

Notice requirements for this section correspond to those requirements found in Trial Rule 65(b) and are intended to be consistent with T.R. 65(b).  Posted notice requirements correspond and are intended to be consistent with those found in Ind. Code § 5-14-2-5 which requires that: “[t]he court shall notify the parties of the hearing date and shall notify the general public by posting a copy of the hearing notice at a place within the confines of the court accessible to the general public.”

Today I have asked the Boone County Commissioners to provide to me a copy of the notice and any document stating when and where it was to be posted.

I am sure they don't have that information but I am now providing notice that a public hearing in the Boone Superior Court II matter of Town of Thorntown v Stuart Showalter will be held on 05 October 2009 at 9:00 in the Boone County Courthouse.


Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Indiana Child Support Payment Guidelines Amended - Part II

This is my second posting in a series that I am doing on the Amendments to the Indiana Child Support Guidelines that will take effect 01 January 2010. Part I briefly described some of the main points of the amendments and the process used to achieve those.

After more studying of the 20+ pages of new material I have decided to separate this into seven additional categories which I will post on individually. Some of these will take considerable study but I do want to be thorough. I anticipate that I will do about one posting per week which will still provide plenty of time for review before the 01 January changes.

I - Introduction

II - Dissent

III - Changes in computing support
Definition of weekly gross income
Adjustment to weekly gross income
Minimum support

IV - Changes applicable to Parenting Time
Parenting Time Credit
Equal parenting time
Retroactive modification

V - Application of Social Security payments

VI - Parents health care obligation to children

VII - Taxes and Accounting
Tax exemptions
Accounting orders

VIII - Expected litigation

Dissent -

Justices Sullivan and Rucker dissent in part with the amendments to the Guidelines as approved by the majority of the court. Their dissent is as follows:

"We dissent from those amendments to the Guidelines that have the effect of overruling Grant v Hager, 868 N.E.2d 801 (Ind. 2007). Grant held that there is a rebuttable presumption that neither parent owes the other support in a circumstance where the Child Support Obligation Worksheet calculation produced a negative amount for the non-custodial parent's child support payment because of the application of the Parenting Time Credit. Under the amendments to the Guidelines approved in this Order, however, there will be a rebuttable presumption in such circumstances that the custodial parent must make child support payments to the non-custodial parent equal to the negative amount.

We believe that the Guidelines' presumption in such circumstances should continue to be that neither parent owes the other support. We also note that, notwithstanding this amendment, the trial court has authority to deviate from the new Guidelines amount and order that neither parent owes the other support based on their respective incomes and parenting time arrangements if the court had [sic] concludes that it would be unjust not to do so and the court makes the written findings mandated by Child Supp. R. 3."

What Sullivan and Rucker are saying here is that they don't want a system that is manifestly unjust to be changed. The longtime presumption has been that if the child support calculator produces a result that says the custodial parent must pay the NCP then there will be no support payment. This was established in the Guidelines and clearly articulated in law by application of Grant.

I emphatically suggest that you read the Supreme Court's opinion in Grant. Mother earned almost 2/3's of the family income while the father provided support to the children well over 1/3 of the time. If mother earned 2/3's and provided support for 2/3's of the time then the support would be about zero as each parent would be providing support relative to their earnings. But in this case the father provided additional care and also paid $55 per week for insurance premiums.

Application of the guidelines showed that he was to pay ($92) to mother. Meaning she owed him $92. She argued on appeal that the Guidelines do not allow for a negative child support award so she should not have to reimburse him for the medical insurance or pay $37 to him per week for the additional support he provides. The Appeals Court agreed but the Supreme Court didn't. The Supreme Court ruled that the Guidelines provide for a rebuttable presumption and that he had rebutted that presumption.

Sullivan and Rucker are not convinced that the citizens of Indiana are entitled to equality when in a courtroom. Quite to the contrary they know that the vast majority of custodial parents are women and that they want to perpetuate a gender battle between parents and keep parents from uniting against the invasion of the courts into micromanaging the lives of our children.

Sullivan and Rucker are nothing short of indirect child abusers who seek to harm children for their own benefit.

To ensure that you see all eight section of this child support payment series please subscribe to my blawg.


Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Indiana Child Support Payment Guidelines Amended

On 15 September 2009 the Indiana Supreme Court published the amendments to the Indiana Child Support Guidelines. These Amendments will take effect 01 January 2010.

The Court through the Domestic Relations Committee has undertaken a multi-year assessment of the Guidelines which included input from CPS, the Child Support Bureau and public input and hearings. Many of us either wrote to the Committee or testified at the public hearings providing anecdotes about the difficulty in paying support and still maintaining the minimum necessities for themselves.

These amendments provide an extensive overhaul of the Guidelines. Today I will provide just an overview of the changes and will address them on a point-by-point basis in future blawg postings. The first thing the Supreme Court did was to strike the term "rules" from the text and replace it with "guidelines".

One interesting note is that there was not agreement in adopting these amendments. Justices Sullivan and Rucker specifically did not want all parents to be given equal consideration in setting child support amounts. The adopted amendments includes an addition that we have battled for many years. "The calculated amount establishes the level of child support for both the custodial and non-custodial parent. Absent grounds for a deviation, the custodial parent should be required to make monetary payments of child support if application of the parenting time credit would so require."

The current guidelines provide that when support is calculated that produces a negative amount for the NCP to pay to the custodial parent then the courts simply ignores it. The new rules are now saying the NCP should receive that amount. For instance if a NCP parent has the child one third of the time but only earns one forth of the income then the custodial parent should help eliminate that financial imbalance.

The amendments also reduce the minimum support amount from $25 to $12. Additionally, the Guidelines will now require that a "numeric" support order be established in all cases. There is a saving provision that recommends at $0.00 amount in cases where the NCP is incarcerated, has a disabled parent to care for or some other limited situations.

I imagine that it is going to take a few weeks for me to analyze the amendment thoroughly and write about them so please subscribe and keep checking back.


Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Can attorneys be punished for misconduct?

What do you call a cruise ship full of attorneys at the bottom of the sea? . . . A good start! There is a reason for the degrading and lethal jokes about attorneys. For those people who have been involved with them it is not uncommon to have a disagreement or to feel that you have been wronged by an attorney. Most disputes are over billing. The agency responsible for enforcing the rules for attorneys is the Disciplinary Commission of the Indiana Supreme Court.

Attorneys have certain basic rules that they must follow as set forth by Indiana Code 33-43-1-3. One of 10 particular provisions is that an attorney shall employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to the attorney, only those means that are consistent with truth and never seek to mislead the court or jury by any artifice or false statement of fact or law.

The Rules of Professional Conduct set forth the complete guidelines that attorneys are required to follow through various aspects of their trade from courtroom decorum to advertising. As in any profession there will be the god and the bad. Those who follow the rules, those who bend them and those who show outright disregard. So, what happens when an attorney doesn't follow those rules?

Most attorney complaints are about billing issues. Resolution of those problems should be attempted with the attorney but if that fails then there is the Disciplinary Commission. I have used the Commission with success and failure in the past.

A few years ago I was reading the local newspaper. There on the front page was a photo of the local prosecutor and statements about a defendant in an upcoming trial. He was clearly attempting to try the case in the press and prejudice the jury. I immediately made a Request for Investigation to the Commission. The prosecutor was charged with "misconduct" and even though the judge ordered me out of the courtroom during the trial I was still able to advise my client during breaks. She was acquitted in about half an hour.

There is another type of misconduct for which I have made complaints against an attorney. This attorney represented a town which was involved in a lawsuit against me and also as a defendant in my suits against them. In the case against me he intentionally withheld exculpatory evidence, tried to mislead the court, misstated the law and at times outright lied.

In 1997 the Tippecanoe County Commissioners had a billing issue with this attorney. The Journal and Courier reported about this on March 5, 1997. The article stated that the attorney had submitted a $21,000 invoice for January and half of February 1997. Unlike other attorneys, his billing statements did not itemize his charges. "The way he is not proper," said Commissioner Kathleen Hudson who was a client of his when she voted to hire him as the county attorney.

In a previous complaint I demonstrated that this attorney had, among other things, submitted falsified billing to the Town of Thorntown in 2007. In that instance he had submitted itemized billing. The unfortunate thing is when he submits an itemized bill he charges for work he couldn't have done.

In one suit I filed against the Town of Thorntown, he said he spent 3.6 hours at a hearing in Boone Superior Court I on 04/25/07. However, Judge Mathew Kincaid produced a court calendar that showed the attorney had not been in court that day. The judge also provided a case calendar for the particular case billed for which showed there was no hearing anytime near that date. It was a complete fabrication.

Disciplinary Commission Executive Secretary Donald Lundberg sent a letter to me about each complaint stating that he found no evidence that would warrant discipline. A state attorney paid through taxpayer funds should be more vigilant in pursuing actions against fellow attorney's who are stealing money from taxpayers. Those 3.6 hours at $185 per hour cost taxpayers about $650. Since I was ordered to pay those fees by a different court I will soon be filing a lawsuit to recover those fees plus other damages and court cost.

Indiana Code 33-43-1-8 allows for a person to recover triple damages against an attorney who has used deceit or collusion with intent to deceive a court, judge, or party to an action or judicial proceeding to obtain a judgment. Attorney Carlyle "Cy" Noyes Gerde of Lafayette, Indiana clearly did that. He makes a practice of representing small municipalities and running up huge legal fees before moving on.

Now I have a case to present to you that shows Gerde has clearly violated the Rules of Professional Conduct in Thorntown's case against me. In the Complaint I allege that Gerde has violated all of Rule 3.3 about candor towards the court and four portions of Rule 3.4 requiring fairness to the opposing party.

The following is a portion of the complete Request for Investigation that I have submitted to the Disciplinary Commission. This was a public nuisance case brought after I put a sign in the window of my porch that read, "Child Molestation Ring Evidence - Guess who's involved." Essentially what I claim is that the Town Council President Gary Jones freaked out about that sign and ordered Marshal Woodard to go after me for something. On July 20, 2006 Marshal Woodard delivered two Notices to Abate to me. One cited that there was an abandoned car in my drive and a fiberglass playground equipment in the shape of a boat; the other was for grass exceeding 12 inches in my flower beds.

There was an abandoned car in my drive and I made the owner come get it. I also pulled all the shoots of grass out from my flower beds. The Marshal wrote a letter thanking me for remedying the car and grass situation but since I refused to remove the playground equipment I was cited on 08 August 2006 for having an abandoned vehicle on my son's playground. That case was dismissed.

On 01 September 2006 I was sued for having vegetation on my property exceeding 12 inches and also for maintaining a dangerous structure identified as my house with poster-board signs in the windows. I allege that I sought copies of the Notices to Abate and letter from the Town Marshal. Attorney Gerde and Marshal Woodard during the discovery process both said the documents didn't exist. Although I wasn't cited for any trash, debris or other condition of the property Attorney Cy Gerde regularly lied to the Court saying that it was a "trash case".

Here are portions of the actual transcripts from the case.

The Notice violation -

Indiana law requires that a notice be provided to a property owner giving at least 10 days to remedy an alleged violation before the municipality takes action to remedy the alleged offense.

Page 30 Line 6 - GERDE: ". . . you were given many notices."
Page 30 Line 16 - GERDE: "You were given actually, as you know, many warnings. Uh, for all during July and August, you did not respond to those, uh, so you were cited."
Page 46 Line 9 - GERDE: "But those are what he found when he went to the scene and those are what he had complained about in July and August to Mr. Showalter and when they were not solved, he normally gives at least thirty (30) days and he did give more than thirty (30) days and that was what he was cited for in 3386, which was uh, conditions declaring to be a public nuisance and that includes chapter 12, Section 12.1 . . ."

The Irrelevance violation -

The citations were for signs in the windows of my house making the house a dangerous structure and for vegetation "exceeding one foot" which Gary Jones testified were trees, bushes and flowers.

Page 30 Line 1 - GERDE: " . . . this is a trash case. That's all it is is a trash case. We have those every year in tens of thousands communities and the law makes it very clear that we have a choice to discretion to enforce it or not. And in this case choose to enforce it and uh, there were . . . you were given many notices."

Page 33 Line 2 - STUART: "He [Gerde] also brings up the issue of citing that this is a trash case, yet, subsection . . . Part D, Subsection One (1) of the purported ordinance is what relates to trash, debris and so forth, being on a property, yet that is not what I've been cited under, so I believe that is absolutely irrelevant."

Page 65 Line 16 - GERDE: " . . .have to be with all this peripheral things as whether his signs are constitutional or whether he has a right to call people liars, that . . . none of which has anything to do with this. This is a trash case."

The testimony about this being a trash case is extensive. If you want to see it all you'll have to check out the transcripts from the Boone County Clerk. Clearly though as you are reading this you can see that even after I told him it was not a trash case, which he knew, he continued to carry on about it being a trash case.

The best and most damaging part of this case is when Cy Gerde and Marshal Jeff Woodard state that the 08 August 2006 letter from Woodard doesn't exist. I have now obtained the originals from the police station. To see all the allegations read the complete Request for Investigation and supporting documents.

So now it is time for Donald Lundberg to show that he is going to apply the rules of attorney discipline as he is required to or is he going to show that he is operating in collusion with Gerde.

To see more about Gerde subscribe to my blog. You will soon see the evidence that Gerde broke into his elderly parents home then beat and robbed his mother. You'll also get additional information about past discipline cases against Gerde. Thanks for reading.

Stuart Showalter

Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Teen stabbed to death in adoptive home after DHS removed from natural parents

Faith Baden of Iosco County, Michigan had no idea that when she last talked to her son Justin Pribbernow, while he was on a Marines recruitment trip, that it would be the last time she would speak to him. “The hardest part is when I said goodbye to him, I didn't know I was saying goodbye for good.", says Faith. This is not a story about another soldiers death in a foreign land though. Justin died during an attack, allegedly by his brother, 15 year old Steve Pribbernow, which also left two brothers and their adoptive father seriously injured.

Faith Baden had five sons. While married to Paul McBride Jr the first three, Mitchel J McBride, the oldest, Paul (McBride) Pribbernow, and Justin (McBride) Pribbernow were born. The relationship between Faith and Paul deteriorated and they eventually divorced. Paul McBride Jr now lives in Flint, Michigan. Faith describes their relationship as "not good".

Faith is now married to Kevin Baden whom she had two more sons with. They are Kevin (Baden) Pribbernow, age 15, and Kody (Baden) Pribbernow, age 13. However, the youngest four boys were removed from the care of Faith and Kevin after Paul McBride, Jr made an allegation that both Justin and Paul were being sexually abused by Faith. However Social Services found that this allegation was not true. This followed the previous conviction of Doug Bemis for molesting the boys. He is now serving a 43 year term for that abuse.

On May 19, 2004 the Standish Court in Arenac County determined that Faith and Kevin had failed to protect the boys from the abuse and had also allowed Kody to be medically neglected. The boys were adopted by Jessica (Pribbernow) Saylor who is married to Joshua Saylor who was also injured in the attack. In 2006 Jessica divorced from Steve Jeffery Pribbernow and the three youngest boys remained with her. Faith says that is when Jessica went to child welfare officials and ask that they take the children back but was told that she had adopted them and was to provide for their care until they reached the age of 18 years.

Also in the home, prior to the arrival of Faith's sons, was Steve Pribbernow, age 15, whose father had been found stabbed to death in a river. Steve and his mother lived with his grandparents for awhile before they died. Steven then went into the system where he was eventually adopted by the Pribbernows. Jessica (Pribbernow) Saylor and Joshua Saylor had four boys living in the home at the time of the attack.

Jessica Pribbernow may not have been a model parent herself and there is some question as to whether she was fit to parent these children. As Faith tells it Jessica had a criminal record and her application to be a foster parent was denied. But with the help of a state senator, Family Lutheran Adoption Agency of Bay City, Michigan arranged for the adoption of the children.

Jessica had three biological children of her own. Along with Faith's four boys and Steve that made eight children living in the three bedroom home. At the time of Justin's death there were seven children living in the home.

Faith says that Jessica made it difficult for her to have communication with her children, not allowing them to have a telephone and maintaining rigid controls over their lives. She also says that her oldest son Paul had once told her that Justin told him that Jessica had been fondling him.

Although there were no outward indications that this may have been coming, Faith's son Paul had told her that the other children needed to be removed from the Saylor house. There has been no information provided to me that Steven Pribbernow was on any medications but I have been told that his back was recently covered in bruises.

Faith and Kevin Baden had hoped for the return of their children. Although they were hoping to start a custody action some time back the estimated legal costs prevented them from going forward at the time. Faith wants all parents to know that CPS is not interested in doing what is best for children but getting the money for the state. Under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act states get incentive payments to have children taken from their natural parents and placed into an adoptive family.

Kevin and Kody suffered serious injuries in the attack including Kody's loss of some fingers and damage to Kevin's internal organs. Both boys have been released from the hospital and returned to the care of Jessica (Pribbernow) Saylor who apparently failed to protect the children in her care from being killed or seriously injured.

The Badens saw their son Paul, who is age 19, on Sunday 06 September. He told them that he had witnessed Jessica sexually molesting Justin and that she had also molested him with the assistance of Joshua who held him down. In 2006 Jessica accused Paul of molesting her biological daughter and he is currently serving a 56 month prison sentence.

I contacted Jessica Cokar of Midland County DHS and asked her what many are wondering; Why were children removed from their parents based on an allegation that they failed to protect them from sexual abuse and then adopted by someone who then alleges that her child was sexually abused and now has failed to protect one of the children from being stabbed to death and two others seriously injured. To be blunt, do you actually care about children or are you just in it for the federal incentive money?

Ms Cokar was asked for comment on September 4, 2009 but had no comment for this article. Midland County DHS did say this, "The Michigan Department of Human Services appreciates the time you have taken to share your thoughts."

The Baden's were not allowed to attend the funeral of their son and do not even know where he is buried. An officer of the Midland County Sheriff's Department allegedly called the Baden's and told them that they could not attend the funeral. Although the call appeared as "Midland County" on their caller ID, upon returning the call the Baden's were told that the Department knows nothing of it.

The Badens would like for anyone who knows their children to let them know about the condition of their children and to also let their boys know that they want them home and are continuing to fight to bring them home.

Justin Pribbernow was a good student who played football, basketball and was in track. His plans were to enlist in the Marines upon completing high school. His 18th birthday would have been the day the Badens went to visit Paul in prison.

Steven Pribbernow's next court date is scheduled for October.

Stuart Showalter

Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Indiana court orders man reimbursed for tax checks stolen by the State Attorney General of Arizona.

Mom wants more and argues everything under the Sun to get it.

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Friday 04 September 2009 ordered that an Indiana man is to be reimbursed over $10,000 for tax refunds intercepted by the State of Arizona. The case of Williams v Williams is an unpublished opinion but provides some significant case law and findings. The opinion was written by Kirsch with Najam and Barnes concurring.

This case originated from the marriage and subsequent divorce of Yvonne and Wesley Williams. During the marriage two children were born, Matthew, born on January 16, 1983, and Angela, born on August 23, 1985. Yvonne and Wesley's marriage was dissolved in 1987, and Yvonne was awarded custody of both children. Pursuant to the dissolution decree, Wesley was obligated to pay child support to Yvonne which he did consistently.

10 years later, on December 30, 1997, Wesley filed a petition with the Grant Superior Court for modification of custody in which he sought custody of Matthew. On March 10, 1998, Yvonne and Wesley filed an agreed modification of custody with the trial court wherein they stated that Wesley should be awarded custody of Matthew and that Wesley's child support obligation should be abated “at the time the Order of Modification is granted as each party will have one child of the marriage.” The trial court issued an order granting Yvonne and Wesley's agreed modification of custody on March 13, 1998. Matthew began living with Wesley in June 1998.

Since there was no longer support being paid on June 12, 2008, Wesley filed his Petition to Determine Overpayment of Support and Amount Due to Respondent. In the petition, Wesley alleged that there had been an overpayment of child support because the State of Arizona had been seizing his tax refund checks. The trial court held a hearing on Wesley's petition on July 18, 2008. Yvonne didn't appear but her counsel did so instead. During the hearing, Wesley testified that his child support obligation was abated in June 1998 when Matthew came to live with him and that, at that time, he had no child support arrears. Wesley stated that since 1998, various states, including Arizona, had seized $11,582 in excess of what he was to pay in support. That being $10,382 from income tax refunds, while $1,200 was from a tax stimulus check. This money was then transferred to Yvonne. The court ordered Yvonne to reimburse $11,582 to Wesley in monthly payments of $100. Wesley, though, admitted that because $196 had been returned to him during the hearing, the amount Yvonne now owed him should be reduced to $11,386. On September 30, 2008, the trial court issued an order in which it found that Wesley had overpaid his child support by $11,386. Despite this, the court ordered Yvonne to reimburse $11,582 to Wesley in monthly payments of $100.

Everything under the sun

Yvonne, on appeal, contends that the Court erred in ordering her to pay $11,582 because she had already returned a $196 check to Wesley during the hearing. She was correct and the Court of Appeals agreed. The case was remanded to the trial court for the court's order to reflect the return of $196. That is where the support for Yvonne on appeals ends though.

Wesley had testified that Matthew entered the military when he turned eighteen in 2001, and that Angela got married in November 2005. Based on this testimony, Yvonne's counsel argued that Matthew was emancipated once he entered the military, and thereafter, Wesley should have paid Yvonne child support for Angela until 2005 when she got married. She argues that Wesley owes child support in the amount of $82 per week for Angela from April 2001 until November 2005 when Angela got married and consequently was emancipated pursuant to Indiana Code section 31-16-6-6(b)(2). She calculates that for this period, Wesley owes $19,680 in child support. Based on this, Yvonne concludes that the trial court should have found that she owes Wesley nothing.

Well that is just not the way it is done. Those of us who have been victimized by the Bradley Amendment know that you can't get a retroactive modification to reduce your support payments order back to when you lost your job or whatever else. Support can only be modified back to the date of a petition to modify. Yvonne never sought a modification in support. She simply asked the appeals court to make the modification. What Yvonne in fact seeks upon appeal is a retroactive order modifying child support, which Indiana law prohibits. See Ind. Code § 31-16-16-6(a); Drwecki v. Drwecki, 782 N.E.2d 440, 447-48 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003) (noting that because retroactive modification of child support is prohibited, as a general rule, a court order modifying child support may only relate back to the date the petition to modify was filed and not an earlier date). Strike 1.

Yvonne also argues that she further testified that her 1998 agreement with Wesley to modify custody did not specify that Wesley had no child support arrears at that time. In fact, Yvonne testified that as of June 1, 1998, Wesley owed $4,648 in child support. However, Wesley testified that in June 1998 he had no child support arrears and it was not proven otherwise. Yvonne's argument asks the court to reweigh the evidence and judge witness credibility, which the court will not do. See Carpenter, 891 N.E.2d at 592. The trial court found Wesley's testimony credible which was sufficient to permit the trial court to conclude that there was no child support arrears as of June 1998. Strike 2.

No support was ordered in this case after June of 1998 when Yvonne contends that Wesley had a support arrears of $4648. Since that wasn't enough Yvonne also tried to say that the arrears was $10,673.47. This time she relies upon a document that was prepared by the State of Arizona which indicates that Wesley has a child support arrears totaling $10,673.47. She contends that the trial court's judgment should be reduced by this amount. However, the child support order in this case was entered in Indiana, and Wesley made his child support payments in this State. As such, Arizona's calculation of Wesley's alleged child support arrears is of minimal evidentiary value. Really it was nothing more than Arizona fabricating a child support arrears for the purpose of intercepting tax checks to get federal incentive payments. Courts are rarely so obtuse as to call it as bluntly as it is so the Indiana Court of Appeals simply found no merit in the Arizona calculation although it really amounted to theft. Strike 3.

Finally, Yvonne contends that Wesley's overpayment of child support through the State of Arizona's interception of tax refunds should be considered a gratuity or a voluntary contribution for the support of Angela, and as such, Wesley may not recoup these funds. Generally, voluntary overpayments of child support are treated as gratuities. Carpenter v. Carpenter, 891 N.E.2d 587, 600-601(Ind. Ct. App. 2008) . However, the court has previously held that the overpayment of child support resulting from tax interception cannot be construed as a voluntary overpayment of child support or a gratuity and that the party claiming an overpayment of child support is entitled to reimbursement of those funds. Matson v. Matson, 569 N.E.2d 732, 734 (Ind. Ct. App. 1991). Here, because the overpayment of child support was due to tax intercepts, the overpayment was involuntary and the trial court properly concluded that Wesley was entitled to reimbursement of the amount he overpaid in child support. Strike 4.

This case provides some key points to keep in mind about child support payment issues and trials in general. It is helpful when making a claim that you have supporting documentation. Saying it's $4,000 but also $10,000 just doesn't add any credibility. If you want a change in child support payments then request a modification. You don't wait until the children are emancipated and then say now let's do an audit and figure out what it really should have been. If you voluntarily overpay support then it is considered a gift. If there is an extraordinary expense that you want to help with then make that payment on the condition that it is future support payments. Get a document attesting to this and file it with the court. Finally, before you go seeking $35,197.47 on appeal and only getting $196 make sure you don't use Stephen P Wolfe of Marion, Indiana who doesn't know some of these simple principles of law.

The State of Arizona has no right to butt into Indiana child support cases. The Arizona State Attorney General was asked for comment on this allegation but at the time of publication no response had been received.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Make a suggestion for me to write about.

Parents who would like to achieve the best outcome for their children in a contested child custody case should visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. Attorneys may request a free consultation to learn how I can maximize their advocacy for their clients.

Connect with me for the latest Indiana child custody related policy considerations, findings, court rulings and discussions.

View Stuart Showalter's profile on LinkedIn

Subscribe to my child custody updates

* indicates required
©2008, 2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

State Budget Cuts Leading Towards a Criminal Justice System Shutdown

The latest news coming from state legislatures fighting against increased demands on public services and declining revenue is that cuts need to be made somewhere. The person who sees the hours at a license branch cut back or the tuition rate at a state college increase feels a direct impact and is pleased about neither. The impact of releasing inmates early, especially among those convicted of victimless crimes, is not so easily felt by the typical taxpayer.

The Criminal Justice System has been a farce for many years. We have, by far, the highest incarceration rate in the world[1], more than five times higher than second place China. Yet with over 1% of our adult population incarcerated we still have some of the most dangerous streets in the developed world. Our homicide rate is the highest among industrialized nations except for the former Soviet Republics[2]. There is no corollary evidence to support a link between incarceration and a safer community. Quite to the contrary it is often our high incarceration rate that leads to our high crime rate.

As Senator Evan Bayh and so many others have repeatedly said, fatherless homes lead to higher interactions with the criminal justice system by their children.[3] In their zeal to fill the prisons our government has actually created a greater danger to us and more crime in our communities. Taking the primary breadwinner out of a family leads to many hardships not only on that family but the greater community as well.

A community where the courts have removed income earning fathers is going to suffer an economic decline. Currently the United States has over 3% of males aged 20-44 years in prison.[4] In some communities the rate is over 20%. Those are men approaching their earning potential peak and those higher earnings that are now gone are no longer being spent at local businesses. Larger employers of males who can't find a stable workforce relocate and children once inspired by a father are left to roam the streets where trouble brews.

I was given a crash course in the business of prisons when I was sentenced to an 84 month federal prison term back in 1989. After appeal, in which the sentence was reduced to the maximum allowable by law, and the mandatory parole I served a little over a year. I spent time at various institutions from Terre Haute to Duluth out to El Reno and then down to Oakdale Louisiana. That is where I learned about the true business of prisons.

Oakdale was a very poor community. The prison meant many jobs for construction and suppliers in the immediate term and in the long term were staff positions. Just like in the movie Cool Hand Luke there were also special services to certain businesses to receive low cost inmate labour.

It seems now though that the free-spending days of the criminal justice system may be coming to an end. At least 26 states have cut corrections spending in fiscal year 2010, and at least 17 are closing prisons or reducing their inmate populations, according to the Vera Institute on Justice, a criminal-justice reform organization in New York.

The prosecution rates for the federal courts provide some very interesting facts about crime and what the priorities of our criminal justice system is. In 1995 violent crime accounted for 5.3% of cases. This had dropped to 3.5% by 2005. Drug and immigration charges accounted for more than half of all cases. US Attorneys declined to prosecute 33.7% of violent crimes, 13.9% of drug cases and 1.5% of immigration cases.[5]

Our prison population is made up of few violent criminals and even when given the chance to prosecute, US Attorneys decline that invitation in over 1/3 of the cases choosing to instead concentrate on immigration offenses. The argument that prisons house dangerous criminal and keep us safe is a farce.

Some of those non-violent offenders in our prisons our very good fathers who have fallen on bad times. Either through injury, other legal troubles, mental health issues or a downturn in the economy many fathers have faced unemployment or seen a decline in income. During the long period of time it can take to get a downward modification in a court ordered child support payment plan the arrears can build. These fathers are not the dangerous menace to society that prosecutors would have you believe they are. The flames of fear that these desperate men will break into your home and harm you to get child support money if they are left on the street is not borne out by reality. In fact, incarcerating these fathers actually leads to a greater threat to society.[3]

I have long said that through a cooperative alliance the people can regain control of the judicial system. The system relies heavily upon plea agreements and out-of-court settlements. The US Courts resolve well over 80% of criminal cases through plea agreements and 10% through dismissals.[5] It is often reported that courts have the capacity for no more than about 5% of cases to go to jury trial. That means if everyone demanded a jury trial only 1 in 20 cases would be prosecuted. We the people could then demand that the real crimes be prosecuted. I wrote about this earlier in why jury trials should be demanded and about jury demands overburdening the trial system.

Each time I have demanded a jury trial the case against me has been dismissed. After one and a half days in court hearings preceding trial a felony neglect case against me was dismissed. It was completely without basis and only brought by Prosecutor "Toddy Bear" Meyer and Judge David in an effort to silence me. That attempt failed miserably. I was the one who demanded that the charge be reinstated after it was dismissed. I wanted five more days of court time to not only expose courthouse corruption to a jury but also keep the court too busy to harm others.

Each of us has an obligation to do what we can to protect children whether in court or out. If we can deplete court resources by demanding jury trials in all civil and criminal cases then we will limit the ability of CPS and judges to harm children. It very well may be that CPS is the actual cause of child abuse and neglect. Since its' inception in 1976 the rate of abuse and neglect of children has increased over 480%.[6,7]

Whether is be for a child support payment matter, which is not a crime in Indiana[8], or any crime, we all owe it to the children to demand jury trials and deplete court resources that otherwise could be used to the detriment of children. Joe Jurecki of Michigan is one such patriot who has steadfastly affirmed his responsibility to vigorously fight the child abuse system and protect the rights of children. In what could have taken no more than 15 minutes in family law court Jurecki has shown how to make it a one or two day criminal court case.

Jurecki tells the prosecutor that he will not be stopped from seeing his children, that he supports his children and that he will demand a jury trial in his child support payment case. Family law cases are not triable by jury, but here is the loophole. The prosecutor wanted to suspend his driver's license. Jurecki informed her to proceed with it so he could drive without a license and then get a jury trial. Thus, Joe wins his right to a jury trial in a case that started out in family law court. There he should get to present evidence as to the underlying cause of the offense. A talented litigator could spend two to three days doing depositions in a case like this and then one to two days at trial. Just imagine if every parent whose drivers license was suspended did this.

In Indiana, like many states, a moving driving offense is triable by jury.[9] In nearly all cases the offense is not punishable by jail time. If you have managed to reduce your assets to within the US Bankruptcy Court's exemptions then you have essentially nothing to lose. You can force police, prosecutors, witnesses, jurors and court staff to spend days tied up in litigation. Best of all. You will cost the court $1,000's with no possibility that they will recover any of it.

This child support payment system has become an expensive publicly funded enterprises that provides free legal services to a small, but vocal, minority of people. It is when the taxpayers no longer approve of spending huge amounts of their money to provide a windfall to a custodial parent that the injustices of the family law courts and this taxpayer funded free legal aid will be changed.

[1] Thomas P. Bonczar - Statistician, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prevalence of Imprisonment in the U.S. Population, 1974-2001, August 2003.
[2] Tenth United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, December 2008
[3] Evan Bayh, Responsible Fatherhood Act, Introduced to US Senate June 2009
[4] Heather C. West, Ph.D. and William J. Sabol, Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison inmates at midyear 2008, March 2009
[5] Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, Federal Justice Statics 2005, September 2008
[8] Stuart Showalter, Is Failure to pay Child Support a crime?, March 2007
[9] Stuart Showalter, LLC, Your right to a jury trial for traffic infractions, January 2008

Stuart Showalter

Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Express your opinion about Judges and Attorneys

If you are lucky you have never experienced the losing end of a corrupt judge, prosecutor or attorney. If you are like most of us activists then you have and that is often the reason for our activism. It would have been great to have a list of these corrupt people prior to having to deal with them though. At least that way we could have been prepare and had no illusions about what we were facing.

The opportunity is out there for us to do this but for some unknown reason it isn't happening. When Judge Steve David took a pay-off to decide my child's custody I wrote about it. I am not alone in this either. Information on the website reveals some of his corrupt practices by attorney Cy Gerde of Lafayette, Indiana, and also about the incidents involving his parents including Gerde beating and robbing his mother. No one should be more involved in exposing corruption than the very attorneys who face these corrupt actors.

It happens. Take the case of a young lawyer exposing a scheme involving a judge who oversaw an estate and sold property at a bargain price in exchange for a $30,000+ payoff. The story "Whistle-blowing attorney gets 6-month suspension" tells how the attorney was suspended for six months over the revelation. The Supreme Court Justice who handed down the suspension, Bobbe Bridge, was charged with drunken driving. She was granted deferred prosecution on condition that she attend an alcohol-treatment program and abstain from alcohol or drugs. Apparently only the best make it to the top.

We then have another case involving a lawyer trying to expose a judge for violating ethical rules. In July of this year the headline "Judge's Defamation Suit Against Lawyer Is Dismissed" came out following the dismissal of a New York case in which a judge sued a lawyer whose comments about the judge sitting over a case involving his personal attorney appeared in the Daily News. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Martin Shulman allowed the defamation claim to proceed against the Daily News and columnist Errol Louis. So much for attorneys and newspapers exposing judicial corruption.

We have people starting websites about attorneys and judges, we have attorneys getting sued or suspended and we have the vast majority of people still having no clue about the judges and attorneys before whom they appear. There is information available if you want to start a website about an attorney or judge. Much simpler than searching the web for info about a particular judge or attorney is to go to a discussion forum.

InCRA has a discussion forum about Indiana attorneys and judges. There isn't much info on there even though posters may leave information anonymously. I must confess I just posted today. I had previously but the board had to be wiped out and started fresh because it got spammed with porn.

Aside from me forgetting to go back and repost there are still many people visiting the site who send e-mails directly to me about certain judges or attorneys. This is what leaves me perplexed. I hear it time and time again. "I wish I had known this judge was . . ." or "I wish I had known this attorney was just . . . " Yet, the opportunity is there but the comments aren't.

If you have something to say about a judge or attorney, good or bad, then do it. I often hear people say "I don't want to get sued for defamation." It's only defamatory if it is not true. If you "feel that Judge blah blah is corrupt" and it is true that you feel that way then it is not defamation. I wrote more about defamation last month. If we are going to be effective in court then we need to go in with as much information as possible. There is no one better to provide that than those of us who have been there. Please take a few moments here to leave a message about your experiences with judges and attorneys. If you don't live in Indiana then just do a search for Judges and Attorneys discussion forum and post there.

Stuart Showalter

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.