In contested child custody cases it is not unusual for judges to seek the assistance of a Guardian Ad Litem [GAL] to provide evidence as to the fitness of the parents and the wellness of the children. Judges place their trust in the integrity of these actors to employ diligence and appropriate ethical standards in performance of their duties. But when this trust and obligation is violated what are the appropriate consequences?
A case that was active over five years ago in which Del Anderson, a GAL for Indianapolis based Child Advocates Incorporated, provides the basis for an examination of this issue. The divorce case, Moore vs Moore, involved parents who had agreed upon the issues of child custody, parenting time, and child support payments. Shortly after that agreement, mother, Kristi Moore, sought sole legal and physical custody of the children. The court first entertained that action in the year 2010. Two years later as the full breadth of the conflict was coming to fruition Judge Heather Welch sought the appointment of a GAL.
This is when Del Anderson made his appearance. Alongside him was his attorney Cynthia Dean who was also employed by Child Advocates. They should have placed the best interest of the children above their personal biases but that did not happen. Instead they engaged in a series of actions set to malign the character of the father, Brian Moore, in the view of the court. I wrote about Dean’s actions in Child Advocates' Cynthia Dean should be removed from Moore v Moore case. In response Mr Moore filed a complaint against Dean with the Disciplinary Commission of the Indiana Supreme Court which governs the roll of attorneys.
After that action by Mr Moore the retaliation came in the form of Del Anderson providing perjured testimony also intended to malign Mr Moore. I wrote about the attempts by Del Anderson and Child Advocates to sabotage the court proceedings through lies and misrepresentations for their personal benefit in Litigation Pays Attorneys more - Assault on Judicial Integrity by Child Custody Evaluators - Part IV. Particularly, that Del Anderson made an allegation that the Pendleton Elementary School went on lockdown following a threat by Mr. Moore.
At a hearing in early 2013 the matter of that allegation was explored in the court. During the hearing the Pendleton Chief of Police along with the Superintendent of Schools and the principal of the alleged locked-down school testified. So did Mr Anderson, under oath.
When I spoke with the police chief and superintendent prior to the hearing they both informed me that there was no lockdown or other unusual procedures employed in response to Mr. Moore. Both in writing and verbally, they made it clear to me that there was no underlying support of any kind for Mr Anderson’s allegation of a lockdown. They also testified to the same.
Mr. Moore expended a great amount of resources in an effort to refute the lies propounded by Del Anderson. Additionally, having his character maligned before the court and due to possible repercussions of that Mr Moore suffered emotional stress. Due to these harms Mr Moore filed suit against Del Anderson and Child Advocates in the Marion Superior Court. Although both argued that perjury was not an offense over which one victimized by such could sue and that Summary Judgment should be granted in favour of the defendants the judge disagreed. I previously wrote about the proceedings in Guardian Ad Litem to stand trial for perjury in Indiana child custody case.
The judge reasoned that committing perjury is not an underlying responsibility in the pursuit of being a Guardian ad Litem and therefore the liar Del Anderson was acting outside the scope of his employment and was therefore not covered by immunity.
Particularly, on 11 May 2015, Commissioner Shannon Logsdon addressed the issue of civil immunity regarding Del Anderson's perjury by stating, "I'm not sure that, that is anything other than gross misconduct ... I don't agree that that's covered by civil immunity. I don't believe that's the exact circumstance for which civil immunity was, uh, put into place. Civil immunity is so that people can't be sued for doing their jobs. .... whether or not Mr. Anderson is covered, uh, by immunity is a question for the jury because there are some factual issues as to whether or not Mr. Anderson, uhm, intended to perjure himself for reason unbeknownst to this Court..."
Subsequently, Defendants would again file another Motion for Summary Judgment. Although information about this case was widely disseminated throughout the legal community no white knight stepped forward. The second time around Summary Judgment was granted. The Indiana Court of Appeals rendered this decision in regards to the grant of summary judgment in favour of Del Anderson in Moore v Anderson.
All was not lost as has recently been revealed. Following the suit there was not much to be said in the legal community about the case as that fraternity closed ranks. It was apparent that it was significant in that a lawsuit against an attorney and GAL for intentional infliction of emotional distress as well as other harms had received significant approval by a judge who ruled that immunity for testors did not apply in the case of perjury [Typically witnesses are immune from liability for their testimony]. For a short time following I would receive inquiries from parents about Del Anderson but then issues around him abated. As such it seems the proverb no news is good news applied.
An Indianapolis attorney recently told Mr Moore, "Your case got Del Anderson fired." Victory realized.
Mr. Moore didn’t recover any compensation for his expenses in fighting Del Anderson’s lies but this news is a victory far more fulfilling. Clearly Child Advocates, Inc. realized [more likely their insurer] that the perjurer Del Anderson was a liability to them. Thus, he was cut loose. Dismissal of the suit however should not dissuade future victims from similarly filing suit when they have been harmed by a court actor.
Don’t look for help from a lawyer to do it though. A retired judge explained the attorney bond this way. “[Y]our lawyer is not your friend. He is an officer of the court, and his loyalty, first and foremost, is to the institution of the court. Second, his loyalty is to other attorneys. Third, and last, his loyalty is to you, his client."
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