On December 8, 2023, Newsbreak reported that Johnson County Chief Judge Charles Droege was summoned to respond to a federal complaint alleging deception around a child custody case docket.
According to documents filed in US District Court in Kansas, a father acting as his own legal representation brought a grievance claiming Judge Droege misrepresented the status of his custody case, Escalante v Escalante, numbered 18CV03813 in Johnson County. While the online docket showed the case was transferred out of county by Judge Droege on November 16th, the complainant asserts the case remains active in Johnson County, and he has been blocked from fully participating in his own defense.
The filing alleges Judge Droege violated the complainant’s 14th Amendment right to parent-child relations and due process. It notes that entries continued to be made in the online Johnson County docket after the supposed transfer of the case. Included in the docket on December 5th was a transcript of an October 18th hearing, bringing into question if the case was actually moved as the chief judge indicated.
The federal complaint further claims the court imposed a lawyer on the complainant against his will in March 2023. Despite this attorney being marked as “removed” from the case in the docket on November 28th, the filing raises concerns about how the attorney still seemed aware of ongoing issues in the case.
The summons issued by the federal court ordered Judge Droege to respond to the deception allegations surrounding the family court docket. As the top judicial officer in Johnson County, how the chief judge responds could have major implications for public trust in the integrity of the local legal system.