Friday, August 19, 2011

Marion County Judge's Campaign Solicitation Questioned

Marion County has the most shameful and corrupt manner of electing judges in the country. Essentially, a handful of insider attorneys of each political party meet behind closed doors, hand pick the candidates to be slated as the respective party's candidates for the primary, and in the contested races for the general election, only one of the hand-picked candidates at most risks losing the election. Merit has absolutely nothing to do with the selection of the slated candidates. The only reason a judicial candidate needs to raise money for his or her campaign is to pay a "voluntary" slating fee. I use the term "voluntary" loosely because nobody who fails to pay the "voluntary" slating fee has a chance of being selected by their respective party to run in the general election. As bad as the system for selecting judges in Marion County is, apparently some judicial candidates aren't even responsible enough to solicit their campaign contributions with dignity or a sense of decorum.

Believe it or not, a sitting Marion County Superior Court judge, Becky Pierson-Treacy, wife of Marion Co. Democratic Chairman Ed Treacy, sent out a solicitation for a fundraiser to attorneys with different suggested levels of contributions. The least amount, $150, is designated as a "Sustained" contributor, while the highest contribution level, $1,000, is designated as a "Favorable Ruling" contributor. Each of the designations are terms used to describe favorable actions taken by the judge in her official capacity. The fundraiser is being hosted at the law firm of Linda Pence, the Democratic Party's 2008 candidate for Attorney General, and is co-hosted by Ice Miller lobbyist Lacy Johnson, Bose McKinney lobbyist Greg Hahn, Judge Treacy's campaign treasurer, and Judge Treacy's husband, Ed, who is a retired lobbyist for Bose McKinney. Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, who first broke the story on his Indiana Barrister blog, has posted a copy of the invitation here.

WRTV's Derrick Thomas has a story on the controversial invitation. Former Marion County Superior Court Judge Gary Miller's reaction to the invitation pretty much sums up the sentiments of many in the legal profession. "It appears that there may be justice for sale," he said. "Those kind of things, even as a joke, are not to be done at the behest of a judge or the judge's campaign committee, and this flier would fly in the face of these rules." Judge Treacy and her husband are out of town on vacation, but she left it to her husband to respond to Thomas' request for a comment. "If you want to blame someone, blame me. It was not the best use of language," he said. Ed, incidentally, is the only one of the group responsible for the flier who is not an attorney and, therefore, cannot be disciplined for the misstep. Pence, who typically loves jumping in front of a TV camera to promote herself as a "Super Lawyer", refused to return Thomas' calls.

We can only hope that some day Marion County joins the civilized world and dumps this Byzantine system of choosing judges that only serves the interests of a handful of political insiders who are totally corrupting the judicial system which the rest of us are stuck dealing with on a daily basis.


Paul K. Ogden said...

What a lot of people don't know is that Indiana's Code of Judicial Conduct prohibit judge candidates from seeking their party's endorsement before a primary and prohibits those candidates from paying a slating fee.

The notion that payment of the slating fee is voluntary and the slating is not binding is the stuff of fiction.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I was happy to see Miller describe the solicitation for what it is. Most attorneys in this town simply look the other way at these things for fear of retribution. Something has got to give. Short of the feds conducting an Operation Greylord style sting investigation like they did in Cook County that sent dozens to federal prison, I don't see the system here in Marion County getting cleaned up. There certainly is no real effort being made by the state or Indianapolis bar associations we pay large dues to annually to represent the bar at large.

Indy4u2c said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul K. Ogden said...

GRW, for that matter we don't see the bar associations opposing the new Indiana Tech law school despite a job market where scores of attorneys are graduating law school with six figure debt and no prospects of a job. I agree the selection process in Marion County needs ot be addressed. There's a lot the bar association is not doing however.

Indy4u2c said...

This "invitation" gives rise to a belief that Becky's crazy rulings are perhaps rendered thanks to a "donation" to her campaign...

First off: If an attorney could get favorable rulings from Becky for a $1000 campaign donation, imagine how much the attorney could profit from Marion County criminals!!!!

I can see the legal advertising now: Have a case in Becky's court? -Call 1-800-PAY-DEMS and this attorney can help!*

*NOTE: -Attorney (insert name) is a "Favorable Ruling (D)onor" to Pierson-TREACY's (D) election fund.

Please write a letter of complaint for the sale of justice to: Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications, 30 S Meridian ST #500, Indianapolis, IN 46204

Justice should not be sold for profit!

I hope the Commission inquires into Pierson-Treacy's prior campaign contributors to evaluate if decisions that are contrary to law and evidence were made in their favor prior to this disclosure.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Ed Treacy is such a slick-talking politician! I absolutely agree with this report and all the comments. Thank you for calling for morality in the courts.