« Environment - Two more Indiana papers pick up corn-fired boiler story | Main | Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals posts three, dealing with: Trial Rule 35, ineffective counsel, and trade secrets »

Monday, December 12, 2005

Ind. Courts - Judge Danikolas deserved harsher punishment for misdeed

"Danikolas deserved harsher punishment for misdeed" is the headline to an editorial today in the Munster (NW Indiana) Times. Here is the entire editorial:

The issue: Lake Superior Court Civil Division Judge James Danikolas' suspension

Our opinion: A two-month suspension without pay hardly seems fitting punishment for improperly firing a family court magistrate

The punishment is more than a slap on the wrist, but not much more.

Lake Superior Court Civil Division Judge James Danikolas was given a 60-day suspension without pay last week for violating the state's Code of Judicial Conduct.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled in a 4-1 decision last Tuesday that Danikolas was abusing his power when he fired family court magistrate Kris Costa-Sakelaris over a personal vendetta.

Danikolas was appointed to the bench in 1977.

The dispute between Danikolas and Sakelaris began four years ago when Sakelaris jailed a man for failing to pay child support and disclose his assets. Danikolas freed the man five days later without a hearing or proper notice.

Sakelaris refused to say she was wrong to jail the father, and Danikolas fired her less than five months later, in May 2003, saying she was doing her job poorly.

Meaning, of course, she was not covering up for her boss. She was right to stand up to Danikolas.

In October 2004, a survey of Lake County attorneys found 60 percent recommended voters kick Danikolas off the bench. He was retained.

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications recommended earlier this year that Danikolas be removed from the bench.

But the high court's decision was to merely dock Danikolas two months of pay and make him reimburse the state $10,894 for the 21-month investigation of his misconduct.

That hardly seems fitting punishment for improperly firing a family court magistrate over a personal vendetta.

The ruling in In the Matter of the Honorable James Danikolas, Judge of the Lake Superior Court, Civil Division 3 is summarized in this 12/6/05 ILB entry (2nd item).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 12, 2005 09:32 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions