Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Passing of Judge Charles Dieter

On the very day that my hero and mentor, Judge Paul H. Buchanan, Jr. was laid to eternal rests, comes news that Marion County Probate Judge Charles Dieter passed away of late-stage lung cancer, which is in itself a surprise since Judge Dieter was a non-smoker.

It's a sad day for the Marion County courts. While I was only in front of Judge Dieter only on a handful of occasions, I have had a number of cases that have gone through the Marion County Probate Court, which were handled by his court commissioners and other staff. Virtually every attorney talks about how well the Marion County Probate Court is run and how much of a pleasure it is to file cases in that court. The staff, from the commissioners to the bailiffs, to the clerks, are first rate, helpful, and pleasant to work with. We always joked that there must be something in the water over there because the probate court is not staffed with run of the mill government bureaucrats just going through the motions. Judge Dieter's staff are professionals who understand that their job is to serve the public.

More importantly, Judge Dieter's staff stays on top of every probate case. They expect to see inventories filed on time and properly done. They want estates wrapped up in a timely matter. If an estate stays open longer than normal, the executor or attorney would have to come to court to explain why.

Right now I represent an heir in a probate matter in an estate case in a county just outside of Marion. It was originally a several million dollar estate; now there is reportedly less than a million dollars left in the state. Of course, we wouldn't know since the Estate has been open for more than 3 years and the executor has never so much as required to file a proper inventory listing the value of decedent's property as of the time of death. Three of the four children of decedent's are heirs, while the fourth, himself a business man with intermingled business interests with the decedent, was named as the Executor. So, in short, the decedent put in charge of his several million dollar estate, the one child he stiffed on an inheritance. This should have spelled trouble from the outset. Yet the Executor wasn't required to post a bond and was originally allowed to open the estate unsupervised. The Executor has admitted in court documents misappropriating tens of thousands of estate assets for his own business. (Actually we believe the amount misappropriated has been hundreds of thousands if not more.) Yet the court, doesn't require him to file a proper inventory, won't let an accounting be done of the estate assets, and hasn't removed him despite his own admission he breached his fiduciary responsibilities. The heirs are left completely in the dark as the value of the estate continues to mysteriously decline more than three years after the decedent's death.

Whenever I tell attorneys this story, their response is that that never would have happened in the Marion County Probate Court. Marion County is blessed with a top-notch probate court that stays on tops of cases so that they are handled properly. That is a lasting tribute to Judge Charles Dieter. Thanks, Judge, for a job well done. We will miss you.

1 comment:

**PeAcE** said...

While I feel bad that,that Judge Dieter died.I still feel some what slighted because instead of reviewing all of the facts and not taking the time to listen to my side of the story and was pushed by attorney Elizabeth Fillipo to terminate my rights to my son.I was told after the fact that the judge was not going to terminate my rights but because this wench of a woman pushed it too far and he(Dieter) had no choice but to terminate my rights.So now I don't know where my son is and being denied the right to see my other two boys because their father won't let me.Where is the contempt of court charges on him?As a matter a fact, he should be charged with kidnapping and contempt because he refuses to allow me to know where they are or let me talk to them.I know they are still in INDIANA but where? There is no justice.Child Protective Services is really and truly known as this it's a CORRUPT POLITICAL SYSTEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!