Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shabazz Accuses Rosenberg Of Ex Parte Communications With Democrats In Charlie White Case

Controversial radio talk show host Abdul-Hakim Shabazz has a history of making unsubstantiated allegations against local Democrats, which are typically dismissed out of hand by Democrats as just another example of his pot-stirring antics to get attention. His latest allegation, however, accuses Marion Co. Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg of serious judicial misconduct. Shabazz claims sources have told him Judge Rosenberg had ex parte communications with Indiana Democrats concerning their ongoing case challenging the eligibility of Secretary of State Charlie White to hold office based on the allegation he violated Indiana law by casting a vote from a precinct in which he did not reside. Shabazz writes at his Indiana Barrister blog:

.  .  . As you know Indiana Democrats have filed suit in Marion County Court to have Charlie White removed from office and Vop Osili declared Secretary of State. They say White wasn’t a legally registered voter when he filed for Secretary of State and his election should be declared null and void. Marion County Judge Louis Rosenberg, a strong and loyal partisan from everything I’ve been able to learn about his record, ordered the Indiana Recount Commission to rehear the case it originally dismissed last year. And the public impression regarding Judge Rosenberg is that he has been no-nonsense about the entire matter.

However, from what I’ve been able to piece together, as always from multiple sources which help me draw a composite, is Judge Rosenberg originally did not want to get involved in the matter, however he was getting a lot of pressure from a group of stalwart Democrats at the state and local level. Rosenberg then reportedly went to Chairman Ed Treacy to get permission to go forward and to also drag Republican Party GOP Chairman Eric Holcomb into all this as well . . .

The allegation Shabazz makes against Rosenberg would constitute a serious violation of the code of judicial conduct that could result in disciplinary action against him. Shabazz, who is an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Illinois, arguably would have a duty to report the misconduct he alleges against Rosenberg to the Commisson on Judicial Qualifications, which investigates complaints of alleged judicial misconduct and prosecutes violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, if he truly has credible information supporting the serious allegation he makes. It's a very serious charge for anyone to make against a sitting judge, let alone an attorney.

When the case was first assigned to Judge Rosenberg, I noted the awkward situation he was in from a perception standpoint because his daughter, Erin Rosenberg, had publicly blogged about her belief that White had violated Indiana election law and should be criminally investigated. She also suggested Hamilton Co. Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp, a Republican, should recuse herself and seek the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the charges, which Leerkamp ultimately did. A special prosecutor earlier this year obtained a 7-count indictment against White stemming from the investigation. Judge Rosenberg would have been permitted under Rule 2.9 of the Code of Judicial Conduct to confer with the Commission on Judicial Qualifications to obtain an advisory opinion or other legal experts on whether he should recuse himself, but he would not have been allowed to have those discussions with Democrats urging him to hear the case as Shabazz alleges. Shabazz claims Rosenberg was reluctant to hear the case and was being pressured by Democrats to do so and went to Marion Co. Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy to get permission to proceed.

The timing of Shabazz' allegation is very convenient. Judge Rosenberg issued an order earlier this week requiring Indiana GOP Chairman Eric Holcomb to appoint White's successor to the Recounty Commission and for the Commission's Executive Director Brad Skolnik to appear at a hearing on Thursday in his court to answer why the Commission has not proceeded with hearing the Democrats' election contest petition as he ordered three weeks ago. Shabazz had teased his readers a couple of weeks ago with an item claiming he had some interesting background information concerning Judge Rosenberg's order requiring the Commission to hear the Democrats' petition that he would soon be sharing with them. Charlie White's attorneys also filed a motion this week asking Judge Rosenberg to stay the proceedings until his criminal case has been resolved out of concern the proceedings could require him to provide incriminating evidence against himself that would prejudice his criminal case.


Paul K. Ogden said...

I just don't buy that a judge, especially Rosenberg, is consulting with party officials on a pending case. That's an awfully reckless charge to make and not produce any evidence.

Advance Indiana said...

He better hope he has something to back up his claim or he could be facing some serious consequences for leveling those kinds of charges against a judge. Then again, it's Abdul. He never seems to be held to the same standards the rest of us are held; otherwise, he would have been fired by both WXNT and WRTV long ago.

Cato said...

He's not an attorney. He can say whatever he wants about a public figure. It's only attorneys who are denied their right to criticize the branches of government.

If the judge can prove some malice aforethought, he might get somewhere. Then he needs to find a jury, and does the judge want to gamble on how the general public thinks judges decide cases? At the end of it all, Abdul has the First Amendment behind him, so good luck getting a favorable verdict or a judgment of any consequence.

I find it distressing that one of the three branches of government regularly escapes searching public inquiry and has protected itself from criticism by the professionals who practice before it, at pain of disbarment.

Abdul's not an attorney, so he's free to say things that Paul and Gary can't. Smart move on his part never getting licensed over here.

I'd love to get a peek at Abdul's evidence.

Advance Indiana said...

You're wrong, Cato. Abdul is an Illinois-licensed attorney who works "of counsel" with an Indianapolis law firm.

Cato said...

I know he's licensed in Illinois. That makes him not an attorney in Indiana and beyond the reach of the Indiana Supreme Court.

He can be "of counsel," all he wants. Nothing stops a firm from keeping a guy around who can answer a question on foreign law. He still has done nothing to invoke the jurisdiction of the Indiana Supreme Court, and I've about had enough with judges thinking they are unaccountable, safe from the heat visited on all other public office holders, and able to retaliate against those who criticize them.

That's a tyranny, not a republic.

I really wish the General Assembly would take lawyer licensure away from the Supreme Court and put it in the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, where it belongs.

Bob Cardwell said...

I have known many judges and I have to say that Judge Rosenberg is one of the most ethical and wise men I have ever met.

I would have to stand by him in this matter.

Advance Indiana said...

That seems to be the consensus, Bob. There needs to be a formal response to his accusation. Shabazz just can't be allowed to toss a grenade out like that and then walk away without answering for his actions.

Jon E. Easter said...

To call Lou Rosenberg's judicial temperament and integrity into question is absolutely ridiculous.

I find it distasteful that Abdul would publish this, and I guess I missed that post or I would have said so on my own blog.