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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ind. Courts - Judicial ethics questions raised in Lake County trial

You'll need to read the whole story to follow, but Bill Dolan's report today in the NWI Times begins:

CROWN POINT | Questions of unethical behavior swirled Tuesday around the case of a Valparaiso businessman awaiting trial on criminal charges in a fatal 2010 crash.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. and veteran defense lawyer Thomas Mullins were both challenged to remove themselves from further proceedings involving defendant Jeffery Cleary over accusations their professional objectivity has been compromised by emotions surrounding the matter.

The 40-minute hearing involved unusual role reversals. Deputy Prosecutor David Urbanski had to take the witness stand to be questioned under oath. Crown Point attorney Alger Boswell III avoided testifying himself by asking for time to hire his own lawyer.

Stefaniak alleged in open court that someone improperly steered this case to his courtroom in 2010 and violated rules that prevent lawyers from using courtroom transfers to find friendlier judges. Stefaniak said he thinks he and Boswell have been "used" and threatened to file a complaint with the Indiana Judicial Branch's Disciplinary Commission.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 11, 2012 02:26 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts