Saturday, December 28, 2013

Three-Judge Panel Recommends Removing Judge Kim Brown From Office For Misconduct

The Star is reporting that a three judge panel of masters has recommended to the Indiana Supreme Court that Marion Superior Court Judge Kim Brown be removed from office, an extraordinary step rarely utilized in disciplining a judge. The panel conducted a 7-day trial in November at which it heard evidence concerning 47 counts of misconduct brought in a complaint against her by the state's judicial qualifications commission. Judge Brown has not been accused of breaking the law; rather the charges centered on the performance of her job, including "dereliction of duty, delaying the release of at least nine defendants from jail, failing to train or supervise court employees, creating a hostile environment for staff and attorneys and failing to properly complete paperwork."

Judge Brown contested the charges at the 7-day trial but later hired new counsel and submitted a public apology and agreed to accept a suspension of 60 days, which was more in line with the punishment handed down by the Supreme Court in other cases involving judicial misconduct in the recent past. The commission asked the Supreme Court to disregard Judge Brown's offer because it was "too little, too late." The Indiana Law Blog has posted a copy of the 107-page findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommended sanction filed by the panel of masters with the Supreme Court, which you can access by clicking here.

It's rather ironic that the state's attorney disciplinary commission is asking that fellow blogger and attorney Paul Ogden be suspended for one year for complaining in a private e-mail about a judge in Hendricks County who permitted an estate case to drag on for years, and who was eventually removed from the case pursuant to the lazy judge rule. Yet when attorneys and court staff complain about Judge Brown's performance and conduct, the judicial qualifications commission seeks the most severe of punishments for the judge. The two judicial bodies seem to be sending conflicting messages.


Anonymous said...

Compare In Re Koethe with In Re Pfaff. Koethe made a deal. Pfaff apologized. Inconsistent results?
Koethe is now a Judge again. Pfaff is back to being a private attorney.

Paul K. Ogden said...

The Judicial Qualifications Commission and the Disciplinary Commission are not on the same page. They haven't been for years. The JQC I think does a good job of equally enforcing the rules. The DC, on the other hand, is extremely political and enforces the rules unevenly going after attorneys they don't like while overlooking much more severe violations by attorneys from the big, politically connected Indianapolis law firms. The DC can also be extremely vindictive if you don't roll over for them and dare fight back I have yet to hear any attorney praise how the DC does its job. No one likes how the DC has been run under Lundberg or Witte.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I don't know, Paul. The judicial qualifications commission had irrefutable evidence presented to it of another judge backdating an order in order to avoid the consequences of the lazy judge rule and did nothing to that judge, at least that was made public. The commission knew that the judge in question had more lazy judge motions filed against him than virtually any other judge in the state.