Meet the Magistrates
Magistrate Taylor A. Beaty
Magistrate Taylor A. Beaty took the bench in July 2020. As Magistrate in the Court’s Small Claims Division, she decides a variety of civil cases, including landlord-tenant issues, protective order requests, contract disputes and other matters.Show more
She began her legal career as a law clerk in the Civil Division of Allen Superior Court for the Honorable Judges David J. Avery and Stanley A. Levine. Prior to taking the bench, she practiced in litigation and estate planning at Beckman Lawson, LLP. In 2019, she received the Allen County Bar Association Outstanding Service Award.
Magistrate Beaty is Chair of the Women’s Section of the Allen County Bar Association and a member of the Benjamin Harrison American Inn of Court. She is also a board member of World Ventures Microcredit, Children First Center and St. Joseph Hospital, and is active at her church.
Magistrate John Bohdan
Magistrate Brian D. Cook
Magistrate Brian D. Cook has served as Magistrate in Allen Superior Court’s Small Claims Division since August 2, 1999.
Magistrate Cook primarily hears civil claims involving contracts, landlord-tenant matters, commercial collections and personal injury. He also presides over the Civil Protection Order docket. In his 22nd year on the bench, Magistrate Cook has conducted more than 10,000 bench trials.Show more
After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in 1989, Cook received his juris doctor from the Ohio Northern University College of Law in 1994. He is a 2009 graduate of the Indiana Judicial College.
Cook began his legal career in Allen Superior Court, serving as a judicial law clerk in 1994 and 1995. Magistrate Cook is currently the senior Magistrate in the Small Claims Division and has been responsible for a number of process and customer service enhancements there, including streamlining the protection order process and Small Claims’ move to its current location at 1 West Superior Street in downtown Fort Wayne.
Prior to joining the Superior Court bench, Magistrate Cook served in private practice, as an associate attorney at Blume Connelly Jordan Stucky and Ulmer. There, he handled civil litigation, including insurance subrogation and commercial collections. He also handled certain family law proceedings, including dissolution and post-dissolution matters. He also served as a Guardian Ad Litem in Children in Need of Services (CHINS) cases.
Magistrate Cook has served on the Education Committee for the Judicial Conference of Indiana (JCI) since 2019 and on its Small Claims Benchbook Committee since 2014. He previously served on the JCI’s Special Courts Committee (2013-2019) and as a member of the Allen County Bar Association Board of Directors (2001-2003).
Magistrate Jason C. Custer
As a deputy prosecutor, Custer worked to foster continuing education among attorneys and to mentor new lawyers as they joined the prosecutor’s staff. He has also served as a special prosecutor in Dekalb and Elkhart counties and worked in 2014 and has assisted in the review and prosecution of homicides locally.Show more
Magistrate Michael Douglass
Magistrate Douglass is a member of the Protection Order Committee of the Judicial Conference of Indiana. The Protection Order Committee led the development and enactment of a complete overhaul of Indiana’s Protection Order statutes. The committee prepares updates for Indiana’s Protection Order Deskbook, advises the Indiana Office of Court Services in the development of forms and procedures for this law, cooperates with Trial Court Technology on the development of the protection order registry, and maintains Indiana’s website in this area.
Prior to taking the bench, Douglass served as an attorney with the law firm Eilbacher Fletcher, LLP, as a deputy Allen County Public Defender, and as a deputy with the Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Office.
Magistrate Douglass is a 2001 graduate of Indiana University and a 2006 graduate of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He was admitted to the Indiana and Colorado Bars in 2006.
Douglass previously served as Magistrate in the Family Relations Division from 2016 until 2018. During 2018, he gained invaluable experience toward his new role while serving as Judge Pro Tempore in Small Claims Court, handling a broad range of civil matters. He has served as Judge pro-tem in both Allen Superior and Circuit Courts.
Magistrate Douglass is married to this wife, Lesley, and they have two children. He enjoys spending his free time participating in multiple civic organizations, engaged with his children’s sporting events, and being active in the outdoors.
Magistrate Carolyn Foley
Carolyn Foley earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice & Sociology from Indiana University-Bloomington in 1989. Following a clerkship in the DeKalb Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and a clerkship in the law firm of Mefford & Carpenter, she graduated from Indiana University School of Law–Indianapolis in 1992 and joined the Allen County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as a full-time deputy prosecuting attorney.Show more
In 2003, she returned to the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office as Chief Counsel of the Civil Division, which required that she supervise the Child Support Division, the Juvenile Division and the Misdemeanor/Traffic Division of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, while handling a caseload and mentoring young deputy prosecuting attorneys. In 2008, she was appointed as a Judicial Referee for the Allen Superior Court, Family Relations Division. In 2013, she served as a Magistrate of the Allen Superior Court, Family Relations Division until February, 2016 when she again returned to the Allen County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as a deputy prosecuting attorney, overseeing the Circuit Court Division and also prosecuting a variety of felony cases in Allen Superior Court. In April, 2018, she was appointed Magistrate of the Allen Superior Court, Family Relations Division, where she presides over juvenile delinquency and family law matters.
In 2001, Magistrate Foley testified before Indiana’s Legislative Probation Services Study Committee regarding probation officers’ use of firearms. She is a 2009 recipient of the Justice Award from the Fort Wayne Urban League for outstanding service to the community in the area of Justice for the families and children of Fort Wayne. Since 2019, Magistrate Foley has served on the Indiana Judges Association Board of Managers, representing the Magistrates of District 18 (northern Indiana). She is a member of the Probation Committee for the Judicial Conference of Indiana and vice-chairperson of the Allen County Bar Association’s Continuing Education Committee. Magistrate Foley is also a member of her church’s Leadership Advisory Board and of the Board of Trustees for her local library.
She is a past member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the National District Attorneys Association, the Indiana Child Support Alliance, the Allen County Youth Services Board, the Allen County School Safety Commission, the Mayor’s Commission Against Domestic Violence, Rape and Sexual Harassment, and the Allen County Bar Association’s Family Law Executive Committee.
Magistrate Foley has been a presenter in many continuing legal education seminars since 1998 for such organizations as the Indiana Office of Court Services, the Indiana Child Support Conference, the Indiana Probation Officers Annual Conference, the Annual CHINS Law & Procedures Seminar, the Allen County Sheriff’s Reserves and the Allen County Bar Association, as well as various in-service staff training for child support caseworkers, probation and detention staff.
Magistrate Sherry Hartzler
Following law school, she practiced law with Van Gilder and Trzynka, P.C. as an Associate Attorney. She later served as Chief Legal Counsel for the Allen County Office of Family and Children from 2006 to 2010. She returned to Van Gilder and Trzynka, P.C. and practiced law until her appointment to the court.
Magistrate Hartzler is a member of the Indiana Counsel and National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) and the Allen County Bar Association. She is also a member of the Indiana Juvenile Benchbook Committee which prepares updates for Indiana’s Juvenile Benchbook and advises the Indiana Office of Court Services in the development of forms and procedures concerning juvenile law.
Additionally, she is a member of the Board of Directors of Healthier Moms and Babies, an organization that breaks down barriers to prenatal care, educates women about preterm labor and warning signs in pregnancy, increases community awareness about SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death) prevention, provides information about Medicaid, and combats Allen County’s infant mortality rate.
Magistrate Hartzler has been a presenter in many continuing legal education seminars since her appointment to the bench for such organizations as the Annual CHINS Law & Procedures Seminar and the Allen County Bar Association, as well as various in-service training for Guardian Ad Litems and Court Appointed Special Advocates, Public Defenders and the Department of Child Services.
Magistrate Hartzler also volunteers her time with the Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) which is a program that offers help to judges, attorneys, and law students who are experiencing life stressors, mental health or substance use issues, or any other issue which may affect their quality of life or ability to practice law.
Magistrate Phillip E. Houk
Magistrate Houk served as a Law clerk in 1986 and 1987 in the Allen Superior Court for the Hon. Robert L. Hines and in the Small Claims Division. In August of 1987 he was hired to serve both the Civil and Criminal Divisions of the Court as a Referee and on January 1, 1988 he was hired as a full time Referee and Probate Commissioner of the Allen Superior Court Civil Division.
Magistrate Houk has served on several committees relating to his expertise in the area of Probate law. Included in this experience have been many years of service on the Probate Committee of the Judicial Conference of Indiana. He also serves on the Judicial conference’s Ethics committee. Magistrate Houk is a frequent speaker to community groups and at lawyer and judicial education programs on guardianship, estate administration and trust issues. In 2015 he received an Award for Judicial Excellence and Integrity from the Volunteer Lawyer Program of Northeast Indiana.
Magistrate Houk has served on the Finance Committee at St. Charles Borromeo Church since 1998 and has been a volunteer and organizer for many local charity events and organizations. He helped to organize and establish the Lifetime Sports Academy, the Rod Woodson Football Camp and the Eric Wedge Baseball camps, three long running not for profit programs which have benefitted thousands of area youth. He served many years as a board member of the Fort Wayne Sports Corporation and is a past president of that community organization. He also served many years as a Director at the University of St. Francis.
Magistrate Houk has been active as a coach and supporter of youth sports and can be heard frequently on the radio discussing local sports issues, and providing commentary for CYO, High School and University of St. Francis sports. Since 1997 he has been the host of the weekly radio show Fighting Irish Preview.
Magistrate Houk and his wife Lynda are the proud parents of 3 children. Lynda is the Executive Director of the Vera Bradley Breast Cancer Foundation.
UPDATED: January 2020
Magistrate Samuel R. Keirns
Magistrate Keirns worked at Allen County Adult Probation from 1998 to 2005. As a probation officer, he wrote presentence investigation reports, supervised both low and high risk offenders, and conducted field visits. In 2005 he was hired by the Allen County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney.Show more
Magistrate Daniel G. Pappas
Prior to his appointment, Magistrate Pappas was an Allen County trial lawyer for 27 years, practicing in the areas of family, criminal defense, and personal injury law. Prior to opening his own law office in 1998, he was associated with the firm of Arata & Pappas for six years. During his career, he served as Deputy Prosecutor of Allen County, Chief Deputy Prosecutor of DeKalb County, Chief Public Defender of DeKalb County, and Deputy Public Defender of both Allen and DeKalb counties. He also maintained an extensive practice in the area of Juvenile Delinquency and Dependency law, including Child in Need of Services cases and Termination of Parental Rights cases.
Magistrate Pappas currently serves on the Board of Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY) of America, a non-profit therapeutic foster care agency which operates in seven States including Indiana, and on the Board of Great Kids Make Great Communities in Allen County. He previously served on the Board of the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) organization in Allen County. He has been active in both the Allen County and DeKalb County Bar Associations, and has served as Board Chairman of the Arlington Park and Ludwig Park Neighborhood Associations. Magistrate Pappas obtained his law degree from Indiana University-Bloomington in 1986, and his business degree from Indiana University-Bloomington in 1981.
Magistrate Beth A. Webber
Magistrate Beth A. Webber took the bench in the Allen Superior Court Family Relations Division on July 12, 2021. As Magistrate, she hears a variety of family cases, including Children In Need of Services (CHINS), domestic relations and adoption matters.Show more
Webber was a solo practitioner in Fort Wayne, focusing on representing children in child abuse and neglect cases, divorce, Guardian Ad Litem and other matters, before being appointed Magistrate.
Magistrate Webber graduated summa cum laude from Ohio University in 1992 and graduated from the Indiana University (Bloomington) School of Law in 1995. She was admitted to the Indiana Bar in 1995.
Webber began her legal career as a general practice attorney in Fort Wayne in October 1995. She has also served as an assistant professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (now Purdue University Fort Wayne), and as adjunct faculty at Ivy Tech and the University of St. Francis. She taught business law, criminal law, juvenile justice, wills, paralegal studies and the legal aspects of social work.
`2004, she co-founded the not-for-profit Northeast Indiana Center for Child Advocacy (later known as Kids’ Law), established to represent children in child abuse and neglect, delinquency, paternity and divorce cases. She served as a volunteer advocate for the Allen County CASA program.
Before becoming Magistrate, Webber was already experienced in overseeing court proceedings, having served as a Judge Pro Tempore in Superior Court’s Family Relations Division many times during her career.
Magistrate Webber is a member of the Lutheran Foundation Board of Directors and a past member of the Concordia Lutheran Church and School Board of Directors. She is a past member of the Right Relations Advisory Board, the Child Life Center advisory board, a past volunteer consultant for Junior Achievement and a past member of the United Way’s Success By 6 program committee.
Updated: July 2021