[Nameplate] Overcast ~ 52°F  
High: 61°F ~ Low: 48°F
Monday, May 2, 2016

Headley announces re-election bid

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Putnam County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Headley has announced his bid for re-election as the Putnam Circuit Court Judge.

"I have been truly honored to serve as the Circuit Court Judge over the last five years and hope to continue my service to the citizens of Putnam County," Headley said. "I have treated the citizens in the court room with respect, patience and consistency. I am always trying to think of new ways to provide a better service for those who come in contact with the court."

Headley is a lifelong Putnam County resident. His previous legal experience includes stints as Putnam County prosecutor and Putnam County deputy prosecutor as well as being in private practice in Greencastle.

Headley has also served as attorney for several different organizations, including the Putnam County Hospital, the Putnam County Council, Putnam County Community Foundation, Zoning and Planning for Town of Cloverdale and Putnam County, town attorney for Spencer, and utility attorney for Bainbridge.

His family includes his wife, Karen, a Cloverdale elementary teacher and two children, Preston and Olivia.

"We've met and exceeded most of the goals that I set for the court and some we are still working on," Headley said. "The reason I say 'we' is that its not just the judge, it's the staff, the clerk's office, the probation departments, community correction, Department of Child Services, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), the prosecutors, the defense attorneys and others that make the court system run efficiently. It is a cooperative effort to keep court activities running smoothly. Although the ultimate decision often rests with the judge, many others play a significant role.

"I believe that one of the areas that is working well is in juvenile cases," Headley continued. "From the beginning, I stressed that I wanted to get the juvenile into the court room as soon as possible to protect potential other victims, to find out what is going on in the juvenile's life and see if we can put structure in place to prevent further destructive behavior. We have also started a 'Teen Court' with the assistance of Linda Merkel, the executive director of the Putnam County Youth Development and in cooperation with the prosecutor's office. This program allows juveniles to be judged by their peers for certain offenses. Area students act as prosecutors, defense attorneys, jury members and court personal in the actual courtroom. Local lawyers donate their time to act as the judge in these cases."

Headley has been involved in the development of other programs as well.

Another program we have launched is the 'CHOICES' program," he said. "Through the cooperation of all the county schools, we have every fifth grader observe actual cases for one morning in juvenile court. Carol Emery, a retired counselor from South Putnam, and the juvenile probation officers, meet with the students at their school to prepare them for the court session. Obviously, the goal of this program is that the choices you make do have consequences. If we can prevent one child from making the wrong choice and landing in the juvenile delinquent system, then the program is a success. The teachers have the children write letters to me about their experience in court. Often, the letters begin with, 'I didn't know that' or 'I'll never do' or 'Now I know.'"

Headley also expressed support for established court programs.

"Of course, we still use the GRASP program for those students who have been suspended from school for actions that may or may not arise to the level of a delinquent case," he said. "To emphasize my commitment to the program, I personally see every student who is suspended from school, along with his or her parents, in the court room.

"We've added a juvenile substance abuse program to work with those juveniles that need this assistance," he continued. "We have a truly dynamic person, James "Figgy" Hardwick, who facilitates this program."

Headley lauded the efforts of those involved with the court programs.

"Most of these programs have added significant value to the court system, while costing very little in actual dollars," he said. "For instance, the CASA program, lead by Patti Harmless, is funded largely by a grant; however, after I informed the Putnam County Council of the state law change which requires every child to have a court advocate in Department of Child Services cases and that there is need for additional funds to comply with the change, the Council was very supportive of increasing the CASA funding instead of other more expensive avenues."

While criminal cases are often the most high-profile of the cases that come through Circuit Court, many other types also reach Headley's bench.

"Citizens often ask me about the criminal cases that are covered in the Banner Graphic newspaper," he said. "Those cases are important, no doubt. However, my criminal docket is only about 20 percent of the time allocated to my weekly caseload. Most of my court time is family law, guardianships, estates, Children In Need of Services, adoptions, juvenile and general civil actions. I must admit, coming straight from the Prosecutor's Office to being the judge on some these civil cases was a learning curve for me. I believe I've met that challenge and provided not just decisions, but reasons for my decisions. No one likes to lose, however, it is important for most people to know why the decision was made."

Headley would like to serve another term and reach more pinnacles.

"Two goals that I strive to make a reality are to appoint court advocates for the elderly in cases such as guardianships, as well as creating a juvenile mentor program," he said. "Many of the elderly just want to know they have someone who they can talk to about the court action -- someone who isn't a relative or doesn't have a stake in the outcome. Juveniles, too, need that kind of support -- ones that are on the cusp of making a crucial decision and may just need to have an adult to confide with. I would like to expand the Family Court Project to place even greater emphasis on collaborative divorce rather than 'take no prisoners' divorce when children are involved. Law enforcement and I have discussed the advantages and disadvantages of a work release program. Time, money and cooperation are always needed. I certainly do not have all the answers, and I welcome suggestions-critical or complimentary.

"In summary, I would be honored to continue to serve as Circuit Court judge," Headley concluded.

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on bannergraphic.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

Big Stick you have got to be kidding....... I almost didn't get through thye whole article because it caused me to be sick.

-- Posted by Innocent on Sat, Feb 6, 2010, at 6:34 AM

Judge Headley needs to learn how to not always side with DCS when they are bullying other state agencies. Learn the Law judge before you make careless court orders. Also, DCS attorneys cannot represent DCS against other state agencies. Are you learning Yet?

-- Posted by Harmony Church on Sat, Feb 6, 2010, at 9:45 AM

I have to say, Harmony Church, I dont agree with you. I have seen Headly first hand not take sides with DCS. I believe he will do a great job for Putnam Coutny again. I dont think I have ever seen a Judge like Headly who is fair. If you dont think he is fair you must have been in the wrong. Very honest man in my book. You will do a fine job Mr. Headly. I commend you in all you do and wish you well!

-- Posted by karma54 on Sat, Feb 6, 2010, at 10:40 AM

Seeing how much Putnam County has dealt with from the ex Sheriff on down.... The (best) means getting away with it...... Best is a strong word.... never been in front of any judges at all just know how this county is.... READ THE PAPERS FOLKS!

-- Posted by Innocent on Sat, Feb 6, 2010, at 3:28 PM

Judge Headley has done an admirable job. Balancing the scales of justice is no easy task I am sure.

-- Posted by hardtobelieve on Sat, Feb 6, 2010, at 4:41 PM

Though I don't always agree with Judge Headley's rulings he does seem to have everybody's interest in mind.Also balancing the scales of justice is important,but lady justice is blind for a reason,so EVERYBODY can get a fair trial.The Best...not sure I can make that call,but he's certinly not the worst.Good luck your honor.Closing I would like to ask judge Headley if he would consider holding public forums to discuss putnam county court systems?

-- Posted by obeone on Sun, Feb 7, 2010, at 1:18 AM

Your Honor, I have no complaints on how you run your court room and as far as I'm concerned, you have my vote for anything you decide to do! Thank you, Firecracker

-- Posted by fop13 on Sun, Feb 7, 2010, at 2:04 AM

Hey "Innocent" read the papers yourself. Judge Headley was not the presiding judge in the ex-Sherrif's case.

-- Posted by VolunteerFF on Mon, Feb 8, 2010, at 12:43 PM

judge Hadley has followed the lead of judge Lowe many times.Take for instance the case where judge Lowe barred a local family from their home and land and the county altogether.

-- Posted by stevied4u13 on Mon, Feb 8, 2010, at 6:28 PM

Obeone I would like to see that>

-- Posted by stevied4u13 on Mon, Feb 8, 2010, at 6:30 PM

Judge Headley hasnt been that bad, but i dont like the fact that he listens to what the community thinks about cases nd makes his ruling on that. from watching cases with my family, it seems he goes with the negative things instead of his heart. Not everyone deserves to go to prison.Goodluck in the election.

-- Posted by haveaheartpeople on Thu, Feb 11, 2010, at 11:48 PM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: