Non Payment of Child Support Indigent Defense | Turner v. Rogers

Turner v. Rogers and its Importance in Indigent Defensemoney-from-feds-2016

| Criminal Law & Psychology Blog |

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I wanted to take some time out of my schedule to discuss Turner v. Rogers while it’s still recent and I remember my thoughts on the matter.  First, I will provide some basic background on the case.  Then, I will discuss the basic legal and policy arguments of the case.  Finally, I will turn attention to my predictions and the importance of this case for indigent advocacy in general.

I. HISTORY OF THE CASE

What is this Turner v. Rogers case I’m talking about?  The answer, thankfully, is rather straightforward.  This case involves two indigent parents involved in a dispute over child support.  The mother, Ms. Rogers, brought a straightforward court claim against Mr. Turner for child support he owed to their daughter.  So far, nothing out of the ordinary.

The noteworthy aspect of the case is that Mr. Turner is indigent, a formal term for a person who is poor; presumably below the poverty line.  In terms of full disclosure, both Ms. Rogers and Mr. Turner were indigent parents.

The court in this case held Mr. Turner in contempt for failing to pay for his child support obligations.  A proper defense to this failure is an inability to pay based upon lack of necessary income.  If that’s the case, why did the judge hold Mr. Turner in contempt?  There is both a broad and specific answer.  The broad one is that the poverty defense is an affirmative one — one that a defendant must prove in order to avoid being held in contempt.  The specific answer is that Mr. Turner lacked an attorney, who would have certainly asserted this defense.

In these situations, a person can typically be held in either civil or criminal contempt, the specifics of which vary by jurisdiction.  This case occurred in South Carolina, where a person facing civil contempt may be incarcerated as a result.  That’s what occurred with Mr. Turner, who was sentenced to serve jail time for being what most us know in lay terms as being “a deadbeat dad.”

Mr. Turner appealed his case all the way up to the South Carolina Supreme Court on the grounds that he was entitled to have an attorney appointed for him since he could not pay for one on his own.  The South Carolina Supreme Court disagreed with his claim and, as a result, he petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear his case.Family Court vs Criminal Court - 2016

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Fight Corrupted Family Courts and CPS

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How to SueJudge

Has a judge violated your constitutional rights? Have you been discriminated against by being treated differently than other people in similar situations by reason of race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual preference or political opinion? Have you lost certain rights without a meaningful hearing or even an opportunity to be heard?

Have you been deprived of any other constitutional protection? Have you been subject to Court action for the purpose of intimidating you from exercising an opinion, or practicing your faith? Don’t let them get away with it.judging the judges

Although it is almost impossible to recover monetary damages from a judge (unless you can prove he or she acted ultra-vires beyond his or her legal jurisdiction) it is in fact possible to obtain relief in equity against a judge through civil rights actions. Equitable relief includes:

  • declaratory relief – (rulings by another judge in the form of opinions establishing the constitutionality or lack of constitutionality of another judges actions.)
  • injunctive relief – a command or order to do something or refrain from doing so.

As a general rule, however, judges cannot be held liable for money damages for acts done in the exercise of his judicial function, within the limits of his jurisdiction, no matter how erroneous, illegal or malicious his acts may be. (48A Corpus Juris Secundum §86) A minority of decisions have held that if an inferior judge acts maliciously or corruptly he may incur liability. Kalb v. Luce, 291 N.W. 841, 234, WISC 509.

Federal Civil Rights statutes, and possibly Bivens actions, appear to offer the best path for redressing constitutional grievances with state and federal judges, respectively, in Federal Court. As a practical matter, such cases will usually be brought by pro se litigants. Neither the politics nor economics of law practice permits lawyers to pursue such cases nor makes them affordable except to a small elite of citizens.Code of Judicial Conduct - 2015

However, lawyers who do successfully sue state judges in federal court in Title 42 U.S. Code § 1983 cases can recover attorney’s fees from judicial defendants provided they can show time sheets kept contemporaneously with their work.

judge You Failed - CRBlog2016

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