Monday, August 26, 2013

Judicial Qualifications Commission Levels Serious Charges Against Marion Superior Court Judge Kim Brown

The Judicial Qualifications Commission has filed a 45-count complaint against Marion Superior Court Judge Kim Brown, along with a separate petition seeking her immediate suspension pending the resolution of her case. The allegations contained in the complaint are very serious and the result of an investigation that was launched in March, according to the Commission, after another judge reported to the Commission concerns that she was not acting timely on motions concerning the release of incarcerated defendants. The 45th count alleges that Judge Brown communicated in "a discourteous and disrespectful manner" with the judge who reported her to the Commission and was initially uncooperative in the investigation. Here's how the Commission summarizes the nature of the allegations against her:
  • delay and dereliction of judicial duties on cases;
  • creation of a hostile environment for attorneys, court staff, clerks and others;
  • failure to adequately complete necessary paperwork;
  • failure to train or adequately supervise court staff and subordinate judicial officers; and
  • delay in the release from incarceration of at least nine defendants.
These are truly serious allegations the Commission is leveling against Judge Brown. The Indiana Law Blog has uploaded a copy of the 45-count complaint, which you can read here. The most serious case brought against a judge in recent memory was the case the Commission brought a few years back against Marion Superior Court Judge Grant Hawkins, whose office had misplaced an order from the Court of Appeals which granted freedom to a defendant who had been wrongfully incarcerated. The clerical error resulted in delaying the man's release from prison for about two years. The Indiana Supreme Court ordered him suspended without pay for a period of 60 days. Two of the justices, Chief Justice Randall Shepard and Justice Frank Sullivan, dissented to the Court's order because they didn't believe the punishment was severe enough against the judge.

Readers may recall that Judge Brown ran against the slated judicial candidates to win her seat on the bench in the 2008 Democratic primary. She served as judge of the Washington Township Small Claims Court for several years prior to serving as a superior court judge. The allegations against Judge Brown seem to date all the way back to 2009, her first year on the bench. In Marion County, it's pretty much impossible to be elected judge unless you are a political insider of one of the two major political parties and agree to pay a very large slating fee to the party in order to get slated as a judicial candidate. I'm not sure what Democrats are paying now, but Republican judicial candidates are paying about $22,000 to get slated. If you win the primary, the election is over since each party nominates exactly half of the number of candidates that are to be elected in the general election. It does no good in the general election to vote in the judicial elections because how you vote makes no difference in the outcome. It's very difficult for anyone to run against the slate and win. Judge Brown's name appeared first on the primary ballot in 2008 because the names of candidates in Indiana are listed alphabetically, which probably didn't hurt her chances.

I'm a Republican precinct committeeman, who in theory are supposed to collectively vote on the party's judicial candidates. By the time they come before the committeemen at the slating convention, an executive committee has already met behind closed doors and anointed the slate of candidates. Members of the executive committee have their own selfish agenda in anointing the judicial candidates, none of which relates to a candidates' qualifications. Most of the people who are committeemen are appointed by the chairman and not elected because most people are too turned off by the corrupt political process to have any part of it any more. Former Indiana State GOP Chairman Rex Early used to refer to these people as mummy dummies, which is essentially what they are since they vote exactly as they are ordered to vote. There is absolutely no opportunity for discussion of an individual's qualifications during the slating process. The executive committee has already made that decision without regard to any concerns others may have.


Anonymous said...

She is truly a horrible Judge. She refuses to sit on a Jury Trial (like her sister Judge Linda Brown in Crt 10), she treats her court staff like servants, she is rude to both the Prosecutors and PD’s, she refuses to even take into consideration the schedules of the officers that are required to be in court, she just up and fired her entire staff at one point because they were “grumbling” about the way she ran the court. She has even run out deputies that worked in her court. She spends lunches with her sister going over files, getting advice on how to proceed. The list goes on and on…..

Marycatherine Barton said...

Btw, Hawkins was slated Democrat.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous... you are correct. I was part of the court staff that she tried to fire. She was unable to because she had no grounds and by the grace of God I got a new job last September. She is an awful judge/awful person. She is not able to do her job without the help of her sister. Her sister is a wonderful Judge, but I guess Judge Kimberly isn't like her.

Anonymous said...

I had the misfortune of being a defendant in her court and watched person after person be granted public defenders minus the three college students in the room. I was a full time student with a part time job, cno criminal history, and the minor charge of public intox. She refused to give me a defender rudely telling me to get a full time job and that if I didn't return with my own lawyer I'd be held in contempt of court. This was her response to me and the two other college students in the room. She was incredibly rude and I was unjustly denied a defender which resulted in me having to represent myself while literally all 15+ defendants in the room (who weren't college students) were no questions asked assigned defendants. Her behavior was reprehensible and I'm glad she will no longer be able to have such great control over the lives of others.