August 25, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Judge Margaret Noe still doesn’t know federal law when it comes to deployed U.S. servicemen. Or, she may know the law but just doesn’t care. If the latter is the case, it looks like she’s relying on anti-father bias to guide her decisions in the Matthew Hindes case, the latest of which appears here (Business Insider, 8/20/14).
Hindes won renown earlier this year as the submariner in the U.S. Navy whom Noe ordered to appear in court in Michigan even though he was serving his country aboard the submarine U.S.S. Michigan somewhere far out in the Pacific Ocean. Noe’s order garnered so much outrage that she rescinded it almost immediately and reset the hearing for October, two days after Hindes is scheduled to set foot on land in Washington State. (That timing alone strongly suggests Noe’s anti-father bias. After all, how much time will he be able to confer with his lawyer in two days during which he has to travel from Washington to Michigan where the hearing is to occur? Noe of course knows that all too well. She gave Hindes the absolute minimum she could to avoid reversal by an appellate court.)
The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act required Noe to suspend all proceedings in Hindes’ custody case as long as he was deployed outside the country, but the judge didn’t care. Her original order not only required that he do the impossible, but violated federal law as well.
But the fact that she was forced to defer the hearing until October in no way means Noe’s reversed her own anti-father bias. No, what’s abundantly clear is what’s happened since her last nationally-publicized judicial debacle.
The issue before the court is the motion for custody on the part of Hindes’ ex-wife, Angela. Matthew has custody of their daughter and Angela has only supervised visitation with her. That’s an unusual arrangement in a country in which mothers rarely find themselves cast in the role of visitor. But it makes sense in Angela’s case.
The reason for ordering the custody evaluation was the same reason that Kaylee was taken from her mother: A previous investigation by Child Protective Services into child abuse and Angela's plea of no contest to a reduced assault charge, according to the Daily Telegram.
Yes, it seems Angela is violent and irresponsible and lost custody because of it. Meanwhile, Matthew has remarried and his wife cares for Kaylee when he’s at sea. Now, you might well ask, “So what’s the change of circumstance that would warrant the change of custody Angela’s seeking?” That would be a good question since, transparently, there’s been none.
But again, Noe doesn’t care. Indeed, she once again ignored the plain terms of the federal law protecting deployed U.S. service personnel and ordered Angela to have temporary custody until the October hearing date. Again, what was the change of circumstance warranting such an order? Again the answer is “none.” And why does Noe still not understand the clear terms of the statute? I suspect she understands them all too well, but chooses to simply ignore them. As we often see, the need to deny a child to its father sometimes trumps all other considerations.
Just in case anyone were unable to grasp Noe’s attitude toward fathers, she did one other thing to make sure there’s no misunderstanding. Because of her violent and abusive behavior, Angela had been ordered to undergo a custody evaluation to determine just what her capabilities as a parent are and what risk, if any, she poses to Kaylee. But Noe rescinded that order too. For her, an abusive mother is better for a child than a responsible father who’s married to a loving stepmother. For Noe, there’s no reason to seek the guidance of a mental health professional in assessing Angela Hindes. So what if she’s abusive, so what if she can’t be trusted to keep Kaylee safe from harm, so what if she’s got a criminal record, so what if Kaylee is fine living with her father and stepmother? And so what if federal law prohibits Noe from doing what she’d tried to do more than once now?
Best interests of the child? Never heard of it. To Noe, things like the law and a child’s best interests must step aside for the more important goal of maternal custody. She’s a judge on a mission.
And it’s Matthew’s lawyer’s obligation to make sure she doesn’t complete it.
But Hindes' lawyer Patrick Foley disagrees, and he's filed a motion for a reversal of Noe's ruling, according to Military Times.
“The law provides no exception for ‘temporary’ issues and no exception for ‘parenting time’ issues,” Foley told the Daily Telegram. “It demands a complete stay of proceedings.”
Here’s a suggestion for him: as soon as the appellate court reverses this latest abuse of the judicial role by Noe, file a motion to recuse. Judge Margaret Noe has a plain bias against Matthew Hindes and should be permitted no further part in his case.
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