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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court suspends LaPorte County judge

In this Feb. 19, 2010 entry, the ILB quoted the Herald-Argus report that:

Suspended La Porte Superior Court 3 Judge Jennifer Evans-Koethe is set to face three judicial misconduct charges against her at two hearings in April.

The Indiana Supreme Court has appointed three masters (judges) to hear the case April 12 and April 19 in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom in Indianapolis.

But late this afternoon the Court issued this release:
The Indiana Supreme Court has disciplined LaPorte Superior Court 3 Judge Jennifer L. Koethe for actions related to a December 2008 shooting at her home where she received a superficial wound to the scalp. The full discipline against Judge Koethe can be found in the Court’s opinion in case 45S00-0905-JD-216 [In the Matter of the Hon. Jennifer L. Koethe]. Briefly, Judge Koethe is suspended from the bench, without pay, for sixty days.

In May 2009, a grand jury indicted Judge Koethe for Attempted Obstruction of Justice. In January 2010, a jury acquitted Judge Koethe of the criminal charge. During that time, Judge Koethe was investigated by the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission for alleged misconduct related to the shooting.

When the felony indictment was filed in May 2009, the Indiana Supreme Court suspended Judge Koethe with pay. In December 2009, the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications filed disciplinary charges against Judge Koethe. The disciplinary charges are separate from the criminal charge, which was filed in an Indiana trial court. The Commission alleged three counts of judicial misconduct and the matter was set for hearing.

Before the matter went to hearing, the Commission and Judge Koethe submitted a “Statement of Circumstances and Conditional Agreement for Discipline” to the Supreme Court. The Court considered and accepted that agreement. The Court agrees with the proposed discipline and has suspended Judge Koethe for sixty days without pay. For one year, she must also disqualify herself from cases where certain witnesses appear, and she has agreed to certain treatment requirements.

The Indiana Supreme Court has final authority over judicial discipline. The Supreme Court order detailing the discipline against Judge Koethe concludes the disciplinary proceeding.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 11, 2010 05:21 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions