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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ind. Courts - "Judicial Qualifications Commission files charges against Muncie City Court Judge"

Another Indiana city court judge in the news, per this press release from the Supreme Court:

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has filed disciplinary charges against Muncie City Court Judge Dianna L. Bennington. The Commission alleges 13 specific counts of misconduct, including abuse of judicial power, repeated violations of statutes and court rules and injudicious public conduct.

The 31 page "Notice of the Institution of Formal Proceedings and Statement of Charges" is public record and has been filed with the Appellate Clerk’s Office. Judge Bennington has 20 days to file an answer to the charges. Only the Supreme Court can determine if any misconduct has occurred.

Generally, the charges assert Judge Bennington violated judicial canons requiring ethical conduct. The Commission alleges the judge abused her judicial power by sentencing a defendant to jail without any indication of when he would be released and conducted a sentencing hearing without a prosecutor present. The Commission alleges repeated violations of statutes and court rules, including noncompliance with contempt procedures and a lack of sufficient due process. The Commission also alleges injudicious public conduct related to a dispute with the father of her children, specifically that the judge made unfounded accusations and engaged in a public verbal confrontation using profanity and a racial slur. The Commission asserts the judge failed to cooperate with the Commission’s investigation by delaying or avoiding the Commission’s lawful requests for information.

The Indiana Supreme Court can appoint three Masters (judges) to conduct a public hearing on the charges that Judge Bennington committed misconduct. Supreme Court rules also allow the Commission and the judge to submit a settlement agreement to the Court. Any agreement or any decision by the Masters must be approved by the Supreme Court.

Here is the 31-page charging document, which is not otherwise posted.

The ILB has looked back in its archive and located the following:

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 11, 2014 11:25 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts