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Allen Circuit judge faces misconduct charges

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The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications filed misconduct charges today against Allen Circuit Judge Thomas Felts, who pleaded guilty last year to drunk driving.

In the notice of formal proceedings and statement of charges, the commission lodges two counts against Judge Felts: that he violated Canons 1A and 2A of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires judges to uphold the integrity of the judiciary and that they avoid impropriety at all times.

The judge was arrested in July following a traffic stop in Indianapolis, and tests later showed his blood alcohol content was 0.19. Judge Felts pleaded guilty in August to a misdemeanor of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He was sentenced to a 90-day license suspension, one year of probation, alcohol treatment, attendance at an Advocates Against Impaired Driving panel, and $705 in legal costs.

Last year, Judge Felts issued a statement following his guilty plea and accepted full responsibility for what happened.

The judge has 20 days to respond to the commission's charges, though that is not required. The Indiana Supreme Court can appoint a three-judge panel to hold a hearing on the charges; and if no agreement is reached, those special masters would recommend any sanctions to the high court, which has final say on any discipline issued.

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