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Justices: judicial discipline now moot

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The Indiana Supreme Court has ended a disciplinary action against a former LaPorte Superior judge who'd served in senior capacity for three years because that jurist has retired and will no longer practice law.

A unanimous order issued by the court today dismisses without prejudice the case against Judge Walter P. Chapala, who faced five misconduct accusations for his actions while serving as an elected judge from 2001 to 2004. The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications late last year accused him of suspending a defendant's sentence in exchange for donations to court programs, and also the judge's alleged involvement in a relative's case over which he presided.

A two-day hearing was set to begin March 12, but that's now been dismissed. The judge has been acting in senior status since 2005, but is no longer certified in that capacity, and he filed a retirement affidavit on Feb. 25, according to the court order.

"The allegations of misconduct here are most serious," the court wrote. "But the effect of the most likely sanctions that this Court would impose if it were to find Judge Chapala guilty has already been achieved with his resignation from the bench, the termination of his service as a Senior Judge, and his retirement from the bar. We therefore find that the matter is effectively moot and the continued litigation of this matter an inefficient use of limited judicial resources."

The judicial disciplinary commission can re-file charges against Judge Chapala if he ever seeks reinstatement as an attorney in Indiana or anywhere else.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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