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JQC: Strike Judge Brown’s apology, support from Sullivan in discipline case

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Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown’s last-minute apology and vouching from former Indiana Justice Frank Sullivan Jr. should not be considered in her disciplinary case, the Judicial Qualifications Commission argued in a brief filed Thursday.

The JQC argues Brown’s submission to discipline in lieu of findings and Sullivan’s affidavit filed in support should be stricken as untimely and outside the record of her 47-count disciplinary case heard last month by a panel of special masters appointed by the Indiana Supreme Court.

“Many assertions in (Brown’s) affidavit (and Justice Sullivan’s affidavit) were known to (Brown) prior to the evidentiary hearing but not submitted to the Masters,” the commission argued in its response to Brown’s latest filing. “Further, a number of (Brown’s) assertions are in direct conflict with the evidence presented at the hearing,” the JQC’s filing says.

Brown’s contrition isn’t a meaningful acceptance of responsibility, and she has continued to delay rulings, according to the JQC filing. “The Commission submits (Brown’s) latest filing simply is too little, too late.”

The JQC is urging the special masters to recommend the Indiana Supreme Court remove Brown from the bench. Justices ordered the case move on an expedited schedule and asked the masters to file a report by Dec. 30. Brown suggests the masters recommend a 60-day suspension from the bench.

Brown’s 47-count disciplinary hearing before a panel of three special masters is believed to be the longest and most extensive against a judge in the JQC’s history. She is accused of delayed releases of at least nine defendants from the Marion County Jail – in one case for 22 days. She is also accused of a host of rule violations, including failing to properly oversee her court, improperly supervising trials, failing to act on Court of Appeals orders, showing hostility toward parties who came before her, and retaliating against court staff who complained, among other things.

At her hearing, Brown was represented by attorney Aaron Haith of Choate & Haith who attempted to portray the judge as singled out for problems he argued were endemic in the Marion Superior courts.

Before the proceedings, justices alerted counsel that parties should not request continuances or extensions except in emergencies or under extraordinary circumstances. On Nov. 25, Haith requested an extension of time to file proposed findings after the hearing, according to the case docket, which also shows the masters granted his request Dec. 2, extending the deadline to noon that same day. Proposed findings were not filed.

Subsequently, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP partner Karl Mulvaney appeared on Brown’s behalf and filed the submission to discipline in lieu of findings that also contained Sullivan’s affidavit, after which Haith withdrew. The brief Mulvaney filed, and which the commission now objects to, argues elements of Brown’s defense were “ill-advised.”

Sullivan’s affidavit supplemented Brown’s latest filing. He wrote that he was disappointed and saddened by the charges. “I believe the events surrounding the charges against Judge Brown are the result of a series of unfortunate events and circumstances,” he said, noting he talked with Brown and counseled her on the need for professionalism and civility. “She advises that she has taken the charges in this regard to heart and that the investigation in this case … caused her to become a better judge.”

But the commission in response says that’s not so, and that Brown’s filing is neither a set of proposed findings nor timely filed for the masters to consider.

“These affidavits also put the Commission at a disadvantage, as the Commission has not been given an opportunity to cross-examine (Brown) or former Justice Sullivan on the new matters (Brown) offers.”

The commission brief says Brown “asserts that she ‘has maintained a work schedule where she is usually in the office by 8 a.m. and usually stays until after 5 p.m. to work on her cases’ … and former Justice Sullivan offers a personal and professional character reference.

“The Commission certainly would have cross-examined both witnesses on these matters and confronted them with evidence which discredits these assertions,” the JQC filing says.

At Brown’s hearing, the commission set the tone, opening by admitting into evidence video from her deposition in which the judge defiantly refuses to take an oath, claiming that because she is a judge, she is bound to the truth. The commission brief says such behavior doesn’t instill public confidence.

Brown’s “conduct, demeanor, and tactics during the investigation and proceedings simply do little to assure the citizens of this State that she, indeed, will do better going forward,” the JQC brief says.


 

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  • KUDOS
    Kudos to Judicial Qualifications Commission attorneys Meiring and Carusillo for a very well written and well argued brief. (link above, do read it to understand this case) I was the subject of a 31 page brief from judicial enforcers that cited not one legal precedent, it is great to see that attorneys working for the Ind S.Ct. can actually brief in a professional and lawyerlike manner. The evidence to remove Judge Kimberly Brown is overwhelming .... but who in the bar would want to litigate against her given the tactics demonstrated and documented? Will she remain an attorney after riding so very roughshod over the very system that attorneys are called to uphold? Very scary that her conduct has been going on for years in Marion County, seemingly with little as to review, and that she was evidently disciplined for similar conduct while in small claims court years ago, but was still promoted and not put on probation. How sad for Indiana that political connections and political correctness seems to have driven the judiciary for the past decades, and that too many times the disciplinary power is either not used (Conour) or used for all the wrong reasons (Ogden). And then there is my five year bar from the Ind bar, while yet in good standing in Kansas (I still am) and fully admitted to the Ind federal courts even after the IBLE slammed me to the ground for my religious views. Much to be fixed in Indiana, but this story does give much hope that the new IND S.Ct. wants to see the problems fixed, even while the old system fights for the likes of Kimberly Brown. (An affidavit from a former S.Ct. justice that the Commission stands prepared to shred in cross examination ... how sad for Indiana) How telling too!

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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