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Friday, September 05, 2014

Ind. Courts - "Hidden camera video raises questions about judge's wedding business"

Kara Kenney reports this evening for WRTV6 in a story that begins:

INDIANAPOLIS - Hidden camera video is raising questions about a Marion County judge's wedding business, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

Wedding officiants are accusing Center Township Small Claims Court Judge Michelle Scott of using public resources to promote the private wedding business she runs with her husband, Rich Scott.

Officiants contacted Kenney after obtaining their own footage of government workers at the City-County Building handing out business cards for Scott's wedding services and directing people to her private office on East Market Street.

David Daniels, a wedding officiant since 1961, said Scott is benefitting from free advertising at the CCB, the place where brides- and grooms-to-be go for their marriage licenses. * * *

The Call 6 Investigators used a hidden camera at the CCB and found public employees handing out business cards for Scott's wedding services and those same government workers directing people to her private office, which is a block from the CCB. * * *

According to Marion County Small Claims Court Rules, which went into effect March 2013, the fee for weddings performed on the Court premises or during the "regular office hours" of the Court shall be $80.

Any wedding fees collected by a judge during regular office hours shall be deposited into the Township General Fund, according to the rules.

Records also show that even though workers at the CCB are directing people to the judge's office, it's her husband who actually performs the bulk of the ceremonies.

Numbers obtained by the Call 6 Investigators show Michelle Scott and her husband Rich perform more weddings than any other wedding officiants in Marion County.

The Scotts have officiated more than 1,300 weddings since January 2013, which is 12 percent of all ceremonies performed. * * *

Their website shows they charge $150 for a weekday wedding at their office and $300 for a weekend wedding at the office.

A lot of judges perform weddings, especially small claims court judges, but the rules of judicial conduct say judges are not allowed to use their prestige or their facilities to promote their own economic interests.

It's not clear if Judge Michelle Scott has violated that rule.

ILB: Judge Scott lost in the primary, so will no longer be a Marion County Small Claims Court Judge at the end of this year.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 5, 2014 05:31 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts