Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs to son.

Who didn’t see THAT coming?

Judge Bradford may be the only one who didn’t see it coming. Watta maroon.


“Some of the Wiccan rituals may have endangered the boy’s health.” :dubious:

I’d really like to know precisely what those “initial concerns” were, and what rituals were confused with child endangerment. Wine and cakes? What?

I’m more annoyed that all of this legal wrangling took up a considerable amount of time and – I have no doubt – money. All for no obvious purpose, since now the judge is all sunshine and smiles about something he initially disapproved of, even in the face of the parents’ protests.

So what purpose did all this confusion serve?

maybe skyclad & Great Rite stuff?

or maybe the judge unfortunately read the old “Witches Bible” by Gavin & Yvonne Frost which did indeed contain some :eek: :eek: :eek: passages about the sexual initiation of adolescents

But if he did, my God- just ask the parents some Qs!

Yes, and they should, because those things are illegal. You can’t compare them even to

which is legal.

It certainly doesn’t compare to being Wiccan, which is legal…

For now.

I knew this case wouldn’t get far, but I gotta say, I really have a bad feeling about the days to come, when stuff like this gets as far as it does.

I haven’t read the decision, just the linked article, but two things jumped out at me: first, the Indiana Civil Liberties Union briefed the argument; and, second, the decision was rooted in state law, not the First Amendment.

I think both of these are significant. The involvement of the ICLU means that the parents likely didn’t shoulder the burden of the cost of appeal and, moreover, there are still groups out there willing to take on issues like this for people who need legal assistance.

Second, by rooting their decision in state family law, rather than in the First Amendment, the appellate court has insulated the decision from review by the federal courts, as well as limited its precedential value to family law cases. In reality, the decision ends here (unless the trial judge goes sideways on them later, which seems unlikely given his comments). No one is taking this decision further. But it also means that the courts are not going to look at a parent’s right to teach his/her kids as a matter of free speech. Instead, it’s a matter of a family right. I think that’s as it should be.

All in all, a good day.

Yes, it’s good that the ICLU picked up the tab for the appeal. However, this case, which never should have happened, drained off time and funds from the ICLU. The ICLU is a fairly small and ill-funded org, and they can only afford to take on a limited number of cases each year.

Right on. As I pointed out before, the judge’s decision had little grounding in state law.

BTW, here is the opinion.

Well, I certainly can’t speak for the judge, but there are some more reasonable concerns that Muggles often have regarding safety, even setting aside good old Uncle Gerald’s (as related by the Frosts) kookieness. Like Athames. The first time my 6 year old brought out his very own 9 inch ceremonial dagger to show Grandma, there was a lot of excited talk about safety. Ditto lighting incense and burning candles. And no, you can’t practice spells on the cat.

And, of course, there’s all those “devil worshipping” pentacles hung around the house. :rolleyes:

I reluctantly note that this is one of the worst cases of judicial activism that I have seen in a long time.

From the article:

Anyone here buying this? Because:

http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/08170503par.pdf (pdf)

Both parties to the case asked him to remove the offending paragraph and he said “no.” If he later changed his mind, he could easily have fixed the boo boo. Let’s tabulate the score.

  1. The judge takes it upon himself to insert a provision restricting parents’ rights to teach their children a non-christian religion. Apparently, he did this after a “brief review,” and yet he felt confident enough in his own opinion to insert an unrequested and unique provision into the decree.
  2. The parties ask him to take the provision out. They file a joint motion, and presumably brief the issue. The judge is unconvinced. Sticking to his scruples, he refuses to remove the offending language.
  3. The parties appeal. Neither party supports the judge’s opinion. The judge does not confess error. Traditionally, such cases are dealt with summarily by appellate courts, in unpublished opinions. The case has already been written up in the papers and involves important issues, so the appellate court publishes the opinion–resulting in a very public spanking for the judge.
  4. The judge finally comes out and says, ohhhh that Wicca.


This guy just wants to be on the side that’s winning.

Oh yeah, and there is this, too:

Indiana Rules of Judicial Conduct

True; yet consider this: the ICLU has been launched onto a national stage with this case. You can’t buy publicity like that. I suspect that, while they may not quite break even on this case, they will see some increase in donations. Plus, like I said, it’s their mission. So while the ideal would have been that the judge make the right decision in the first place, there are some good things flowing from this.

Gfactor, thanks for the links. It appears that the appellate decision is citeable, which means that the ICLU’s work and the parents’ struggle will have value for all Indianans (I just made up that word), and perhaps for other states’ residents as well if those states have similar laws. And right on with the judging on the personal. I want my judges to rule on the law; that way, even if I disagree with them, I can rationalize my disappointment. A bad decision that doesn’t follow the law is intolerable.

What gets me is that if we take Judge Bradford at his word, then his decision doesn’t make any sense.


I am glad that the decision is overturned. But it seemed obvious it had to be.

So, I don’t want to celebrate.
Isn’t there a procedure to now remove someone like this Judge from the bench?
It seems he exceeded any sort of reasonable authority he could have.
I would go so far as to call him a danger to the public.

How does a Judge become an ex-judge?

In Indiana, two ways. First, a trial judge can lose an election.


I criticized the practice of electing judges here. This is a perfect example of why electing judges does not make sense.

Second, he can be removed by the commission on judicial qualifications.


Problem is, if anyone complains, the Commission can rely on this doctrine:


According to the statute, only Hoosiers can complain. If you are a Hoosier, you can start here:


Again, though, you’d have to convince the Commission that Judge Bradford did more than make a legal error.

This takes us to this question:

I had typed a long response to this earlier today, but hit the off button the keyboard (damn off buttons on keyboards, damn you all to hell).

Anyway, here’s what I said mostly:

He really blew it by saying what he did.

The Indiana Rules of Judicial Conduct required the judge to


Clear Indiana law (a statute) required two things before he entered an order like the one we are discussing:

  1. A motion by the noncustodial parent

  2. A finding that the absence of a specific limitation would endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.

Niether happened. He improperly imposed the condition on his own. And he did so without making the required finding. Now I could understand if he made some sort of natural law claim that higher moral principles required him to ignore the statute or if he claimed that he substantially complied with the statute. I wouldn’t agree with him, but I could see him taking his chances with such an argument. But he didn’t, instead he said that “he gave the case a brief review before approving it.”

There are two problems with this. First, his job required him to apply the law and make the necessary findings. By making that claim he is admitting that he did not do his job properly. And he isn’t apologizing for it. Again, the Rules of Judicial Conduct say:

Second, he’s lying. He questioned the parties for at least four pages of trial transcript. There was nothing stopping him from asking more questions. It was his show. Apparently, his decision was based on his ill-informed opinion that Wiccans worship satan. “[P]eople might think that you worship to Satan.” The Court of Appeals concluded that The trial court’s inclusion of this term in the Decree would appear to reflect the judge’s personal opinion of the parties’ Wiccan beliefs and rituals. Again, the rules get in his way:

So in speaking publicly the way he did, the judge showed his lack of judicial qualification. If he is telling the truth, he admits to not understanding that he is required to review the facts and decide cases impartially. If he’s lying then he has been swayed by public clamor and fear of criticism. Either way, he’s got to go. But I bet he stays.

Thank you:
2 things:
When will they start the process of removing this idiot?

Slight Hijack: Usually watchever software came with the keyboard will allow you to disable those (very evil) off buttons. I always disable the silly things.

I will bet you a gazillion dollars that the answer is “never.” For several reasons, some of which I agree with. Primarily, I think it is a bad public policy to remove a judge for one bad decision. Even a flagrantly, enormously, embarassingly bad decision like this one. Which, as Gfactor has pointed out, the judge has tried to gloss over by 'fessing up. But one bad decision (even one, like this one, admittedly not based on law but on personal feelings) shouldn’t end an otherwise good judicial career.

Having said that, I have no basis to believe that this judge has an otherwise good legal career. Frankly, if he had, I would have expected the appellate court to go off a bit on him. (That’s what they do here in California.) So for now, I’m willing to give him a pass on this one, with the hope that he will be mindful in the future that he needs to do a better job.


Yeah, I wonder about that. I have no evidence that he has had past complaints. Apparently, he was elected in 1997, which means he was already re-elected once. City of Indianapolis & Marion County

The newspaper calls him chief judge, but his title is “presiding judge.” He supervises other judges, which I suppose means that he should set an example. I guess I have trouble believing that this is his “first offense.” OTOH, it does appear to be the first time he was caught.

At any rate, I agree with **Campion *: not bloody likely he will be removed, and by the time he is up for re-election, this whole incident will be forgotten.
But see
, petition to remove.