Debtors prision the appearance this is norm

December 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

Anytime Illinois Fathers organizes a support effort for a parent, our membership likes to know details, or in other words, “the story”, about the parent and why the parent should be supported. This is our best attempt to put together “the story” about Mick Gerhardt who is currently incarcerated.

Mick was married with one child and working as a patent law attorney. Although Mick was a licensed attorney, at the time he was completely unfamiliar with the family court system. Initially in the case, Mick handled it Pro Se, however he eventually hired an attorney who charged a ridiculous retainer and shortly thereafter withdrew from the case. Mick then hired another attorney who did exactly the same thing. During the divorce proceedings, Mick was barred from presenting financial information to the courts, such as assets (or lack thereof), and income. His divorce decree is vague which leaves a lot of room for the other parent to exploit. At some point, the Judge ordered that Mick should pay the attorney fees of Mick’s ex. If anything dealt the death blow to Mick, it was this ruling that he be financially liable for the ex’s attorneys. The ex in fact is represented by not one, but two attorneys who charge a questionable hourly rate and of course are motivated to pad their invoices since Mick is ordered to pay for their “services” after all. In addition, Mick’s ex presents to the court invoices for things such as child care, taxi rides and other expenses which get added to Mick’s tab, and over time, Mick’s tab has grown to the point that Mick cannot possibly pay it down.

Most recently, Judge Schuster ordered Mick to attend a session with a division of HFS called Parental Services Unit, which is supposed to help Parents like Mick work out some way to pay off their debt. Mick had an appointment with Parental Services Unit for late morning on the same day that he was ordered to appear in Judge Schuster’s court. Mick appeared on time in Judge Schuster’s court. Eventually it was time for Mick’s PSU appointment so he left the court in order to attend his PSU appointment, then Judge Schuster called his case and ordered Mick jailed for not showing up. Mick is not sentenced for any definite length of time, but rather he is sentenced until he, (or someone on his behalf) comes up with $ 10,000.

By the way, if he does come up with the money, it will get him out of jail only for a while, until the ex and her 2 attorneys take him back to court again for more money.

Dr. Stephen Baskerville brilliantly makes the point that the Debtors Prisons of modern times are actually worse than the well known Debtors Prisons in Old Europe. This is because the modern day Debtors Prisons throw fathers in jail not for expenses which they incur, but rather for expenses that are assigned to them by some Judge, i.e. onerous child support obligations and/or attorneys fees for the ex’s attorney(s). Furthermore, our Judges routinely impute the father’s income, that is the Judge does not determine that the father is unable to pay due to lack of adequate income, but instead the Judge will impute that the father should be earning a larger amount of income and thus the father should pay according to what the Judge imputes his income should or could be. Even the somewhat recent Supreme Court decision of Turner vs. Rodgers (cannot incarcerate if the party does not have ability to pay) is rendered useless by this power that the Judges have to impute our income. Another factor to consider in cases like Mick’s is that while fathers like Mick are in jail, the Judges can say that it is voluntary unemployment as the debts continue to accrue. It absolutely defies logic, but Judges are doing this to fathers.

Mick is perhaps the only attorney in the State of Illinois who will talk openly and on the record regarding how absolutely disgusting, corrupt and out of control these courts have become. Additionally, Mick has helped innumerable parents with their cases, and he has also testified on behalf of all of us in front of different committees at our State’s Capitol.

We are hoping to organize a protest or a rally on behalf of Mick near the Daley Center on Saturday January 31st. In our previous newsletter, we asked for members to commit their willingness to attend, and sadly we received a dismal response. We really need a decent turnout in order to get media attention focused upon what Judge Schuster and so many others are getting away with. Also, if anyone out there has earned what should be our support, it is Attorney Mick Gerhardt.

Will you please consider sending an e-mail to Steven Westerfield at to let us know that you WILL be there with us at the Daley Center Saturday January 31st beginning at 10 30 am ?

If you would like to visit Mick, visiting days are Thursday and Saturday 3:30-8:30 and you must register 3 days in advance through computer so that they have enough time to clear your name. Before going, just call Cook County 773-674-5225 and check that you have been approved to visit. If you would like to mail Mick a snail mail letter,

Mick Gerhardt
PO Box 084002
Chicago, IL 60608

Anything each of us can do to let Mick know that we are thinking about him will do a lot to lift his spirits and give him some hope.

On Saturday January 17th, Illinois Fathers will be holding our first ever Pro Se course at the Springfield Office. The course is scheduled to begin at 1pm and run until 6pm. More details are on our website. ( From Chicago’s Union Station, Amtrak’s 303 Lincoln Service arrives in Springfield at 12 50 pm, and Amtrak’s 306 Lincoln Service departs at 7 30 pm). To get a ride from the Train Station to the Illinois Father’s office, e-mail Even if you have an attorney, the Pro Se course is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the court system.

The newsletter you are currently reading goes out to 540 subscribers. Our facebook following has grown to over 1500. We can never work too hard in order to get the word out about Illinois Fathers and one way we do this is with the Illinois Father’s Tri-Fold brochure. Many of our members have accepted the role of putting our Tri-Folds out there in public places such as offices of elected officials, various government agency offices, churches, YMCA’s, and other places where parents can view our brochure and discover Illinois Fathers. If you would like a box of approximately 250 Tri-Fold brochures sent to you, please e-mail Steven Westerfield or Tim Brown.

Once again, please consider joining us on behalf of Mick Gerhardt on January 31st.

Steven Westerfield
Illinois Fathers
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