On Friday, November 17, 2023, themagazineplus.com reported that a Kansas father has filed two federal lawsuits alleging unlawful acts by a local judge and attorney related to child custody proceedings in Johnson County.
According to the report, Matthew Escalante appeared before Judge Paul Burmaster of the Johnson County District Court in July 2022 regarding a protective order case. Escalante alleges that Judge Burmaster and attorney Christopher Wilson conspired to fraudulently obtain a protective order against him, removing him from involvement in his daughters’ custody case.
Escalante claims he informed Judge Burmaster at a July 27, 2023 hearing that he felt the judge was “the problem” in the case. Documents state Escalante then “took a knee” and disappeared from the proceedings. For over a year, Escalante had no contact with his two daughters due to the protective order.
However, Escalante reemerged in federal court in October 2023 to pursue legal action. On October 19, Escalante – representing himself – filed a Section 1983 civil rights lawsuit in the US District Court for Kansas against Judge Burmaster, alleging multiple unlawful acts in the state custody case violated his constitutional rights.
One month later, on November 11, Escalante took further action by notifying the US Department of Justice of the lawsuit. Multiple US Attorneys are now involved in the case against Judge Burmaster. The judge has until late November to respond before the suit can proceed by default.
Escalante also filed a second Section 1983 lawsuit on November 6 against individuals involved in the state custody case, including Wilson and the mother of his daughters. This $8 million lawsuit was brought on behalf of Escalante and his two daughters, alleging their civil rights were violated.
Most recently, Escalante filed motions on November 7 to consolidate the two federal lawsuits, strengthening the allegations of conspiracy between Judge Burmaster and Wilson to unlawfully restrict his parental rights.
It remains to be seen how the federal courts will handle Escalante’s unconventional self-representation and serious accusations against a sitting judge. However, the father appears determined to regain involvement in his daughters’ lives over a year after withdrawing from state proceedings.