Marion Superior criminal court Judge Kimberly Brown faces possible suspension and discipline from the Judicial Qualifications Commission on 45 counts of misconduct.
According to a verified petition for suspension, Brown faces an array of accusations, including counts that her actions led to the delayed release of at least nine defendants and that she created “a hostile environment for attorneys, court staff, clerks, and other court officials.”
In one count, Brown is accused of failing to make a minute entry after releasing a man charged with a Class C misdemeanor on his own recognizance. The man spent 22 days in the Marion County Jail. Another defendant spent 16 days in jail on a Class C misdemeanor because the judge failed to meet her administrative duties, the charges allege. Others spent one to nine days in jail when they shouldn’t have, according to the JQC.
The statement of charges against Brown also asserts that between 2009 and January 2013, when Brown was elected to serve as judge either in Criminal Division 16 or 7, she failed to properly complete necessary paperwork and failed to properly train and supervise staff and court officers. She also is accused of improperly converting jury trials to bench trials and causing multiple needless delays.
Several of the counts against Brown allege she treated defense and prosecuting attorneys and clerks and court officers in a rude and discourteous manner. She “routinely displayed inappropriate demeanor toward Court 16 court staff and maintained a hostile environment by making derogatory and inappropriate comments about other court staff, court officials, and attorneys in front of staff members and by engaging in other hostile behaviors.”
Brown is accused of failing to timely act on motions before her in multiple instances, and when lawyers called her office daily and court staff approached her about it, she “sometimes responded to the effect of, ‘This isn’t a McDonald’s, you can’t get what you want when you want it’ or ‘I refuse to be held captive,’” according to the complaint.
The complaint says Brown held public defenders to a different standard than private attorneys. Court staff allege that she frequently told them she “hated” certain defenders and referred to them as “stupid.”
In one instance, Brown is accused of snapping at a public defender who corrected the judge that the client’s next court date was a jury trial rather than a bench trial. Brown is alleged to have said, “You’re very close to contempt. … I suggest that you stop. You are disrupting this court’s procedures.”
Brown also is accused of treating court staff badly, making unflattering comments about their weight, and in one case banning a deputy clerk from her courtroom. Her court had the highest turnover rate of any Marion Superior court, with 14 different employees from 2009-2012. She later hired bailiffs and a court reporter with no court experience, the complaint alleges.
The judge also is accused of firing her former chief bailiff, Tamara Harrell, in Aug. 2012 because she “believed that Harrell had provided information to, or was going to file a complaint with, the Judicial Qualifications Commission.”
Much of the complaint centers around failings to properly stay on top of paperwork, some of which could be attributed to conflicts with clerks. “The inability to locate files in Court 16 became so pronounced that the clerk’s office for a time maintained a log of all files the deputy clerk transferred to the judge,” according to the notice of proceedings, which may be viewed in separate files here.
According to the Indiana Supreme Court online docket, no date had been set as of Monday afternoon for proceedings before the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Brown is represented by Indianapolis attorney Aaron Haith of Choate & Haith. A firm representative said Monday there would be no immediate comment.