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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court censures Judge Newman, Jr., Judge of the Madison Superior Court No. 3

In the Matter of the Hon. Thomas Newman, Jr., a 5-page per curiam judicial disciplinary action, just posted late this afternoon. Some quotes:

Judge Thomas Newman’s failure to do his duty has brought the judiciary into disrepute. We consider here the disciplinary consequences of his failure. * * *

As a result of Respondent’s failure to execute an appropriate order for Dawson’s release and to provide proper supervision and instruction to his court reporter, Dawson unnecessarily spent over one year incarcerated with the DOC and one year on supervised parole. In several written and oral statements concerning this matter, Respondent failed to exhibit meaningful remorse for the effect that his neglect had on Dawson’s liberty and, instead, blamed his court reporter, the DOC, and the Court of Appeals. However, Respondent now takes full responsibility for both the unfortunate events of the Dawson case and Respondent’s failure (until now) to accept fault for those events. He offers his apology to Dawson and his family, to his fellow judges, to the Commission, and to the Court. * * *

Respondent’s conduct reflects discredit on him and the Indiana judicial system. It goes without saying that a trial court judge is duty-bound to carry out the orders of a reviewing appellate tribunal. That duty is at its highest when an appellate remand order affects the substantial rights and interests of a party under the trial court’s control. When a trial court judge fails in this duty, the appellate relief secured by the party evaporates. Dawson can never regain the time and freedom that the Court of Appeals’ opinion granted him.

A public reprimand is a blemish on a sitting judge’s reputation, adversely affecting the public’s evaluation of the judge’s performance in office. It is not the severest sanction we could impose, and we would have been inclined to impose a harsher penalty had there not been an agreement with the Commission. Because Respondent has (albeit belatedly) accepted responsibility for his actions, has apologized to Dawson and his family specifically and to the judicial community generally, and has agreed to accept, with the Commission’s consent, a public censure in lieu of a further proceedings, we accept the parties’ Conditional Agreement for Discipline. Thomas Newman, Jr., Judge in the Madison Superior Court No. 3, is hereby reprimanded, and the costs of this proceeding are assessed against him.

This terminates the disciplinary proceedings relating to the circumstances giving rise to this cause. Shepard, C.J., and Dickson, Sullivan, Boehm, and Rucker, JJ., concur.

For background, start with this July 30th ILB entry.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 19, 2006 04:13 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions