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Justices deny case involving trial judges issuing orders against other courts

April 24, 2012

The Indiana Supreme Court will not take the lawsuit filed by six people against Marion Superior Judge William Young for his actions in traffic court. The plaintiffs wanted the special judge appointed to their case to order Young to comply with certain procedures, which included mandating Young allow the general public to attend court sessions.

Special Judge Matthew Hanson from Morgan County was appointed to hear the case, Toshiano Ishii, Matthew Stone, Greg Hardin, Lisa Hardin, et al. v. The Hon. William E. Young, Judge. The plaintiffs all claimed that Young treated them improperly while they were in traffic court and wanted Hanson to prohibit Young from improperly fining people, allow the general public to sit in on court, and allow defendants with health problems to be able to leave court and return and also carry food, water and medication, if needed.

Hanson dismissed the plaintiffs’ request, which the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in December. The appellate court rejected the arguments that the Indiana Constitution and appellate and original action rules let trial judges issue a writ of mandamus or prohibition against another trial court judge relating to matters that aren’t connected to the trial court’s jurisdiction. The Indiana justices have the exclusive jurisdiction, the COA found, and that decision stands now that the Supreme Court has denied transfer.

Young was disciplined for his general handling of traffic infraction cases in November 2010, receiving a 30-day suspension from the Indiana Supreme Court. Young and the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission had reached a settlement in the matter, in which he was charged with misconduct based on allegations Young routinely implied that litigants shouldn’t demand trials and they would be penalized for doing so if they lost. He admitted to the commission that he imposed the higher fines on litigants whom he believed shouldn’t have pursued trials.

The plaintiffs in the Ishii case are not the basis for the disciplinary action, but their lawsuit involved similar conduct. The plaintiffs only sought relief for future cases.

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