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An active member of the US Navy is fighting for custody of his daughter from inside a submarine in the Pacific Ocean. Matthew Hindes was awarded custody of his daughter 4 years ago, but now his ex-wife is trying to regain custody through a Lenawee circuit court.
The morning rain Friday June 20 didn't stop a navy veteran from hitting the sidewalk outside of the Adrian Justice Center to protest the judge's order for Hindes to appear in court on Monday June 23.
Amie Finkbiner served aboard the U.S.S Ronald Reagan for 3 years. She decided to protest after hearing about Michigan circuit judge Margaret Noe ordering Navy Petty Officer Hindes to appear in court on Monday for a child custody hearing, even though Hindes is currently deployed in the guided missile submarine U.S.S. Michigan.
The decision has stirred up controversy across the country, because it seems Judge Noe has disregarded the Service Members Civil Relief Act, which grants active service members a minimum of 90-days stay for court proceedings.
"The sub has time to make arrangements, and if it needs to come back in to dock it can. But, it's the military. They're not going to surface for every sailor who has ex-wife problems," said Finkbiner.
The protest Friday helped local residents learn of the controversy.
"The guy is out serving his country. He's stuck in a sub. He can't make it back. You know, her trying to take his kid at a time when he can't get here to fight, it's just wrong," said Adrian resident Alvin Gocke.
Judge Noe was quoted in the Daily Telegram saying, if Hindes does not appear in court on Monday, she will grant temporary custody to his ex-wife.
Military lawyers have stepped in to try to get this case delayed and have confirmed Hindes is still deployed. The case is still scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday morning.
Protest organizers say they will be gathering again on Monday June 23rd in front of the
Lenawee County Courthouse to protest Judge Noe's
decision to issue a bench warrant for Petty Officer Hindes and possibly
removing Kaylee from her home in Washington.