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Indiana: 'model' for judicial accountability

January 1, 2008
A national watchdog group has ranked Indiana seventh in the nation for how it holds its state and federal judges accountable.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, nonpartisan organization HALT, Inc. - Help Abolish Legal Tyranny - gave the Hoosier state's program a "C+" on its report card, which it claims is the first study of its kind in the nation. Both Indiana and Nevada received the 7th-place ranking.

A press release about the state's ranking cited Indiana as "exemplary" in some respects including consumer-friendly policies, public outreach, and not prohibiting individuals from speaking publicly about ethics complaints against judges. HALT also praised the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission's Web site for being easy to navigate and clearly explaining the judicial disciplinary process.

In keeping with the report card theme, the organization gave Indiana demerits for failing to place meaningful limitations on the reimbursement and compensation judges can take in connection with privately funded trips. The fact the Judicial Qualifications Commission relies primarily on private sanctions also lowered Indiana's overall grade.

Despite these flaws, HALT's senior counsel Suzanne M. Blonder cites Indiana as a model for the rest of the nation in several significant areas.

HALT graded all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the federal circuits. Washington State took top honors with a "B." No state received an "A." Mississippi and Maine received flunking scores.

Click here to view HALT's report card on Indiana.
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