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3 get judge, commissioner discipline case

June 23, 2008

Disciplinary actions against a Marion County judge and his commissioner have been consolidated into one case and the Indiana Supreme Court has assigned three special judges to the proceedings.

In an order dated June 18, the court consolidated the cases against Judge Grant W. Hawkins and Master Commissioner Nancy Broyles, who've both been on Marion Superior Court's Criminal Division 5 since January 2001.

Delaware Circuit Judge Marianne L. Vorhees has been named presiding master, while Lake Superior Judge Clarence D. Murray and Elkhart Circuit Judge Terry Shewmaker will also hear and take evidence on the charges.

The Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission filed nearly a dozen charges against each on April 9, alleging delay and dereliction of duties relating to the handling of cases.

Mostly, the 11 counts against Judge Hawkins and 10 against Commissioner Broyles deal with their involvement in a post-conviction case that resulted in an Indianapolis man being held in prison for almost two years after DNA evidence cleared him of a 1984 rape.

The charges allege that Judge Hawkins did not adequately supervise his staff and commissioner, committed conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and did not uphold the integrity and public confidence of the judiciary by allowing delays.

Charges are similar against Commissioner Broyles, but reveal that her conduct may have delayed at least seven other post-conviction proceedings between sixth months and 28 months, and some were backdated once they were ultimately decided. The investigation shows that the part-time commissioner routinely issued final orders in post-conviction cases without obtaining Judge Hawkins' approval and signature, contrary to Indiana Codes 33-33-49-16 and 33-23-5-8.

Now, the two cases have been consolidated into No. 49S00-0804-JD-157. The masters are directed to submit a schedule within 30 days of the order and a report is expected during the first week of November.

Indiana Lawyer reported on the disciplinary actions in the April 16-29, 2008, edition, "Judge, commissioner both face charges."

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