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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ind. Courts - Judicial Qualifications Commission Files Misconduct Charges Against St. Joseph Probate Court Judge Peter J. Nemeth

From a news release from the Indiana Courts:

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has filed disciplinary charges against St. Joseph Probate Court Judge Peter J. Nemeth alleging that his derogatory remarks during a guardianship hearing about a potential guardian’s socioeconomic status violated the Code of Judicial Conduct by acting in a manner that did not promote public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Judge Nemeth has served as the judge of St. Joseph Probate Court since 1993, and has been a member of the Indiana bar since 1966. The Commission has filed one count of misconduct against Judge Nemeth related to his handling of a guardianship proceeding in 2011. The Commission alleges that Judge Nemeth’s statements and conduct during the adult guardianship proceedings violated certain sections of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

The “Notice of the Institution of Formal Proceedings and Statement of Charges” alleges that Judge Nemeth made derogatory statements concerning the use of taxpayer dollars when the litigant requested during a March 11, 2011 and a May 6, 2011 hearing that the court provide services of a sign language interpreter for the deaf 18-year-old subject of the guardianship proceeding. Judge Nemeth denied the request and ordered the litigant to provide a deaf interpreter for the permanent guardianship hearing. Judge Nemeth revised the order after the litigant brought the relevant portions of the Americans with Disabilities Act to the court office. During her testimony at the May 6, 2011 guardianship hearing, the litigant testified that she had not filed income taxes and had not worked in ten years. The Commission alleges that Judge Nemeth made derogatory statements about the litigant’s socioeconomic status by suggesting that it was inappropriate for her to request that “the taxpayers pay for” [an interpreter] when she “hadn’t paid taxes for several years.”

The one specific count alleging misconduct is provided in the “Notice of the Institution of Formal Proceedings and Statement of Charges.” Generally it includes the following:

Count I centers on statements made and conduct engaged in by Judge Nemeth during the March 11, 2011 and May 6, 2011 guardianship proceedings. The Commission alleges that Judge Nemeth violated Rule 1.2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which requires judges to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary; violated Rule 2.2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which requires judges to perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially; violated Rule 2.3(B) of the Code of Judicial Conduct which requires judges to not act, in the performance of judicial duties, in a manner that manifests bias or prejudice; violated Rule 2.8(b) of the Code of Judicial Conduct which requires judges to be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants; and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
Judge Nemeth has the opportunity to file an Answer to the charges with the Indiana Supreme Court within twenty days of receiving notice of the charges. After the Answer is filed, or when twenty days has passed, the Indiana Supreme Court will appoint three Masters (Judges) to conduct a public hearing on the charge that Judge Nemeth committed judicial misconduct.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 14, 2012 01:08 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts