Monday, December 30, 2013
Ind. Courts - The Indiana Judicial Disciplinary Process - More on: Understanding the Role of "the Commission" and "the Panel"
The ILB has not reviewed all of these Supreme Court opinions, but has selected three which resulted in the removal of the judge to see how this might impact the ability of a removed judge to subsequently practice law in Indiana [ILB emphasis via bold in quotes below]:
- In the Matter of the Honorable Joan Kouros, Judge of the Lake Superior Court, Criminal Division 3 (Oct. 12, 2004)is a 5-0 per curiam opinion. Some quotes:
The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications ("Commission") has brought a disciplinary action in this Court under Article 7, Section 4 of the Indiana Constitution against Judge Joan Kouros, Judge of the Lake Superior Court, Criminal Division 3. It has asked for her removal.
The evidence demonstrates that over a substantial period of time, involving a large number of litigants, Judge Kouros has proved either unable or unwilling to issue timely and documented decisions in the cases assigned to her, causing real-life consequences for those whose matters are in her hands. Moreover, her representations to us about measures taken to conduct the court's business in accord with acceptable standards have proven unreliable. We therefore conclude that removal from office is the appropriate outcome. * * *
Balancing all the circumstances, we conclude that protecting the integrity of the judicial system and ensuring the fair and timely administration of justice require that Respondent be removed from office. We therefore order that Respondent be removed from office, effective February 25, 2005. The previously imposed suspension with pay will remain in effect until then. We have postponed the effective date of her removal to February 25, 2005, so that Respondent will not lose her future eligibility for the minimum judicial pension benefits when she reaches retirement age. We conclude that this is appropriate given the Respondent's years of service and the fact that her misconduct reflects, essentially, an inability to carry out the duties of her office rather than moral culpability.
Finally, Admission and Discipline Rule 25(III)(C) provides that a judicial officer removed from office by this Court under an order of discipline, excluding retirement or disability, is ineligible for judicial office and, "pending further order of the Supreme Court, shall be suspended from the practice of law in the State of Indiana." We hereby conclude that Respondent is not to be suspended from practicing law in this State and that she may practice law after her removal from office becomes effective. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against Respondent.
- In the Matter of William C. McCLAIN, Judge of the Vigo County Court (March 21, 1996) is a per curiam opinion. Some quotes:
At issue in this case is whether William C. McClain, the elected judge of the Vigo County Court, has engaged in conduct for which he may be disciplined as a judge and if so, what sanction is appropriate. * * *
After reviewing and adopting the findings of the Masters and making our own findings based upon the evidence of record, we are left with a firm and certain conviction that Respondent intentionally participated in the harassment of a court employee and her family. We find it wholly incredible that his own used condom found its way into Hauser's mailbox without Respondent's knowing participation in the process. * * *
The Commission has recommended that Respondent be removed from the bench and forbidden from ever holding any judicial or quasi-judicial office again. Because the Commission has failed to prove all its charges, we are not convinced such a sanction is appropriate. On the other hand, integrity is the essence of the judicial vocation. Respondent's lack of integrity in connection with this matter is demonstrated not only in the conduct for which he is being sanctioned, but also in his advancement of the "McQueary defense" and in his obstructive and uncooperative posture toward the Commission's investigation. Respondent has brought the judiciary into disrepute, has violated the trust of the people who placed him in office, and has been dishonest with the Commission, the Masters, this Court, and the citizens of Indiana. We therefore conclude Respondent's conduct warrants a severe sanction.
It is therefore ordered that effective immediately, William C. McClain is removed as Judge of the Vigo County Court. The Indiana Constitution requires that a "judge so removed by the Supreme Court is ineligible for judicial office and pending further order of the Court he is suspended from practicing law in this State." Ind. Const. art. 7, § 11. Respondent's suspension from the practice of law in this State will remain in effect for a period of no less than two years from the date of this opinion. At the end of that time period, Respondent may petition for reinstatement as an attorney under the applicable rules. The Respondent is further directed to pay the costs and expenses of this action.
- In the Matter of Joseph G. EDWARDS, Judge of the Delaware Superior Court (May 1, 1998) is a 5-0 per curiam opinion. Some quotes:
These consolidated causes come before the Court as the result of judicial disciplinary actions brought by the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications ("Commission") against the Respondent herein, Joseph G. Edwards. * * *
After the trial was concluded and the Masters had submitted their findings and conclusions to the Court, and after Respondent had filed petitions for review challenging those findings, Respondent then tendered to the Court an affidavit admitting to the charges and purporting to resign from the bar of Indiana attorneys. * * *
When an attorney waits until disciplinary fact-finding has already been concluded and initial findings and conclusions made, we may but are not compelled to accept an affidavit of resignation. For the reasons cited above, we decline to accept the tendered resignation of Respondent and instead impose our own sanctions for Respondent's many and serious violations of the ethical rules governing judges and lawyers.
In summary, Respondent committed the unconscionable act of using his law license as a means to barter for sex. He flagrantly breached the trust placed in him as a judge and as an attorney by creating a fraudulent court decree purporting to dissolve a marriage and provide for child custody. He attempted to pass the fraudulent decree off to his client as an authentic adjudication of her legal status and legal rights. When legitimate inquiries arose concerning the document, he lied to other judges, to court staff, and to his client. These falsehoods were part of a pattern of making misleading or outright false statements to clients and to anyone else who questioned his conduct. He presided over a case involving a person with whom he was having a sexual relationship. While employed and paid as a full-time judge pro tempore in one court, Respondent continued to work and collect a salary for part-time judging in another court. Respondent engaged in the private practice of law while serving as a full-time judge.
In short, Respondent engaged in numerous intentional acts of deceit, exploitation, and neglect. He defrauded and cheated the taxpayers of this State and repeatedly betrayed his professional responsibilities both as a judge and as a lawyer.
Further, we find an absence of mitigating circumstances. Respondent flatly denied the charges under oath and, even in the face of overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing, has resisted accepting any responsibility for his unethical conduct. Respondent has shown no expression of remorse nor made any apology to the public or to the individual people whose trust he violated.
Respondent's resignation from the bench became effective on the date it was tendered. The Court further orders as follows. Joseph G. Edwards is permanently enjoined from ever seeking judicial office of any kind in the State of Indiana. He is disbarred from the practice of law and permanently enjoined from seeking reinstatement as a lawyer. We further fine Respondent $100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Dollars). The fine will be suspended if Edwards documents to the satisfaction of the Commission that he has reimbursed the State of Indiana for all judicial salaries he received as part-time probate commissioner in the Henry Circuit Court during the time period he was the full-time judge pro tempore of Delaware Superior Court 4 and that he has reimbursed the City of Muncie for any pay received as a part-time Deputy City Attorney during that same time period. Respondent is further assessed with the costs of these actions.
The Court in Kouros cites Admission and Discipline Rule 25(III)(C), which currently provides:
A judicial officer involuntarily retired by the Supreme Court shall be considered to have retired voluntarily. A judicial officer removed from office by the Supreme Court under an order of discipline, excluding retirement or disability, shall be ineligible for judicial office and, pending further order of the Supreme Court, shall be suspended from the practice of law in the State of Indiana.The Court in McClain writes:
The Indiana Constitution requires that a "judge so removed by the Supreme Court is ineligible for judicial office and pending further order of the Court he is suspended from practicing law in this State." Ind. Const. art. 7, § 11.However, the ILB believes this citation of authority is incorrect. The "judges" referenced in Art. 7, Sec. 11 are appellate judges. Sec. 11 deals with "Tenure of Justices of Supreme Court and Judges of the Court of Appeals."
The Court in Edwards does not cite authority.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 30, 2013 12:30 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts