Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana

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The Supreme Court found that the Honorable Robert W. Freese, Judge of the Hendricks Superior Court 1, engaged in judicial misconduct and ordered that Judge Freese be suspended from the office of judge without pay for forty-five days. The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications charged that Judge Freese's conduct violated four provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that Judge Freese engaged in judicial misconduct by appointing an unqualified friend as trustee of a trust and personal representative of a related estate, failing to disclose the friendship or a financial relationship with the friend, and failing to act promptly when faced with evidence of the friend's mismanagement and embezzlement of the funds entrusted to him. The Court concluded that a forty-five-day suspension from office was warranted under the circumstances. View "In re Honorable Robert W. Freese" on Justia Law

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In this mandate-of-funds action in which the only remaining dispute was over what attorney's fees and expenses the Judges of Lake Superior Court should recover, the Supreme Court affirmed the Special Judge's ruling that the Judges were entitled to recover $176,467.17, holding that the Special Judge did not abuse his discretion. In 2017, fourteen Judges of the Lake Superior Court issued an order of mandate of funds requiring the Lake County Council and the Lake County Auditor (collectively, the Council) to provide funding, including raises, for court employees. A Special Judge heard the case, and the parties subsequently agreed to settle the dispute. The Judges requested $223,234.17 in legal fees and expenses incurred in prosecuting the mandate action. The Special Judge ordered the Council to pay the Judges $176,467.17 for their fees and expenses. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that substantial evidence supported the award to the Judges. View "Lake County Council v. Honorable John R. Pera" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court terminated the disciplinary proceedings relating to the circumstances giving rise to this judicial misconduct case, holding that continued litigation would be an inefficient use of judicial resources because the court over which Respondent presided no longer existed and because Respondent consented to a prohibition on future judicial service. The Supreme Court, however, wrote in order to clarify municipal courts’ power to administer infraction cases and infraction deferral agreements and to caution judicial officers on the impropriety of assuming the prosecutor’s duties. The Court then held (1) municipal courts’ status as “special courts” does not absolve them of the duties of a separate but co-equal branch of government; and (2) municipal court judges must endeavor to maintain, preserve, and protect the independence of Indiana’s judiciary even when administering the lowest-level civil and criminal offenses. View "In re Honorable Geoff L. Robison" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the Honorable Ryan D. Johanningsmeier, Judge of the Knox Superior Court 2, engaged in judicial misconduct by his conduct in, and his failure to recuse from, a friend’s traffic-infraction case. Accordingly, the Court reprimanded Judge Johanningsmeier. The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications charged that Judge Johanningsmeier’s actions violated six provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The parties agreed that the appropriate sanction under the circumstances was a public reprimand plus assessing costs of the proceeding against the judge. The Supreme Court agreed and reprimanded Judge Johanningsmeier, assessing costs of the proceeding against the judge. View "In re Honorable Ryan D. Johanningsmeier" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court found that the Honorable Dean A. Young, a circuit court judge, engaged in judicial misconduct and ordered that Judge Young be suspended from office without pay for six days. The matter was before the Supreme Court on the report of the Special Masters appointed to hear evidence on the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications’ notice of statement of charges against Judge Young. The allegations of judicial misconduct stemmed from a temporary restraining order that the judge heard and issued without adequate notice to the responding party or witnesses and while the judge had a specific interest in the matter. The Special Masters recommended, and the parties agreed, that the appropriate discipline was to suspend Judge Young for six days without pay. View "In re Honorable Dean A. Young" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court found that the Honorable Dean A. Young, a circuit court judge, engaged in judicial misconduct and ordered that Judge Young be suspended from office without pay for six days. The matter was before the Supreme Court on the report of the Special Masters appointed to hear evidence on the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications’ notice of statement of charges against Judge Young. The allegations of judicial misconduct stemmed from a temporary restraining order that the judge heard and issued without adequate notice to the responding party or witnesses and while the judge had a specific interest in the matter. The Special Masters recommended, and the parties agreed, that the appropriate discipline was to suspend Judge Young for six days without pay. View "In re Honorable Dean A. Young" on Justia Law

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The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications brought a judicial disciplinary action against Tommy D. Phillips II, Judge of the Dunkirk City Court (Respondent), after Respondent pleaded guilty to battery against a public safety official. Respondent and the Commission agreed that, by being convicted for battery against a public safety official, Respondent violated Code of Judicial Conduct Rules 1.1 and 1.2. The parties agreed that the appropriate sanction was a public reprimand on the condition that Respondent tender his resignation as the Dunkirk City Court judge and that he shall not be eligible for future judicial service. The Supreme Court imposed the sanction of a public reprimand and assessed the costs of this proceeding against Respondent. View "In re Honorable Tommy D. Phillips II" on Justia Law

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The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications brought this judicial disciplinary action against T. Edward Page, Senior Judge (Respondent), asserting that because Respondent was arrested and convicted for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, Respondent violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. Respondent immediately self-reported his misconduct, was compliant with the requests of the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program, was cooperative with the Commission throughout its investigation, and was remorseful for his conduct. Respondent and the Commission agreed that, under the circumstances, the appropriate sanction was a public reprimand. The Supreme Court agreed with the parties and reprimanded Respondent. View "In re Hon. T. Edward Page" on Justia Law

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Respondent, Senior Judge William I. Garrard, was arrested and convicted for operating while intoxicated endangering a person. As a result of his conviction, the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications brought a judicial disciplinary action against Respondent, contending that Respondent violated the Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 1.1 and Rule 1.2. Respondent agreed that he violated these rules. Respondent and the Commission agreed that, after assessing both the aggravating and the mitigating factors, the appropriate sanction was a public reprimand. The Supreme Court agreed with the parties and reprimanded Respondent. View "In re Hon. William I. Garrard" on Justia Law