Kearney Group Tries to Unseat Three Local Judges
After a bitter custody battle last year, Jacob Sikes lost custody of his two children to his ex wife.
"I am a great father. That's one thing I can say with a lot of confidence," Sikes said. "And to have that just taken away and to go from 50 percent of the time to three hours a week -- that's pretty rough. Really rough."
That's when he decided to create a Facebook group to see if anyone shared his story, and what he calls an "unjust ruling."
"The majority of the time, the children are placed with the mother, no matter what the circumstances...That was my personal experience, and that's been the personal experiences of a lot of the people in our group," he said. "There has been drug abuse, there's been mothers who were in rehab but the children were placed with them anyway, even though they're in rehab, there's been domestic violence in the home, and the child was placed in that home. The list goes on and on and on...That concept that women should automatically get custody or the birth mother should always get custody -- is just not relevant anymore."
One month after the creation of the Facebook group "Do-Good Dads Against Unjust Judges," Sikes and 11 others have made it their goal to unseat three local judges in this November's election by convincing voters to vote 'no' to judicial retention.
"These guys have had the opportunity to make right decisions -- there's no laws restricting them in these cases -- and they've just simply made the wrong choices," Sikes said.
Kearney attorney and president of the Buffalo County Bar Association, Jack Besse, disagrees completely -- calling it a case-by-case basis.
"They're very good judges and very fair," he said. "They make a lot of hard decisions and I don't agree with every one of them, but we have very good judges and they make the tough decisions when they have to."
And when it comes to custody, Besse says the judges are just following the law.
"The preference in the law is to give one party sole physical legal custody. We don't prefer joint custody -- that's the law, they have to follow the law -- unless the parties can agree," he said. "It's a divorce -- people don't usually agree."
According to the Supreme Court website, 30 percent of people already vote 'no' to judicial retention -- this group's goal is to convince 25 percent more to do the same.
But Besse says the group is going after the wrong guys, and that what they should be focused on is changing the laws -- some of which have been on the books for over 50 years.
"Traditionally I think there's been this bias against men having custody, but I think that their complaints are misplaced," Besse said. "I think that what they need to do is look more at our laws and the legislative system."
The group began campaigning last week and will even be going door-to-door in search of votes. Sikes says it's tough to speak out for a cause, but he thinks it's the right thing to do.
"It's a risky thing to go up because if there ever was a case where you got sued or you had a civil case and you had to appear before these judges, and you were involved in something like this, it might not work to your favor," he said.
Besse says he will call a meeting with the three targeted judges to determine how to best address concerns the public may have.
Citizens can post their own stories about what they believe were unjust rulings on the group's Facebook page, Do Good Dads Against Unjust Judges.