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Attorneys ask judge to recuse himself from Simon case

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Attorneys for Bren Simon turned their ire toward a Hamilton County judge on Tuesday, asking him to recuse himself from a legal battle over real estate magnate Melvin Simon's $2 billion estate.

They took issue with Judge William J. Hughes' choice of personal counsel to represent him in front of a state judicial commission. The judge hired two attorneys with Bingham McHale after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated in North Carolina in October.

Other attorneys at the Indianapolis-based firm represent Simon Property Group Inc. in the contentious estate dispute.

Judge Hughes said in open court Tuesday that he jettisoned the Bingham McHale attorneys—Kevin McGoff and James Bell—on Nov. 22, three days after Bren's attorneys objected and asked for a stay in the case.

Judge Hughes said he has "no bias" for any party or attorney in the case.

Attorneys for Bren, Melvin's widow, were not convinced.

"I am seeking fair and impartial judgment on behalf of my client," attorney Michael Ciresi said in a terse exchange with the judge.

Judge Hughes, who was vacationing when he was arrested Oct. 27, said he was not under the influence when he amended an order in the Simon case earlier that same day.

In court on Tuesday, Judge Hughes turned down a request to put off hearings on several procedural matters, but the judge said he would not immediately rule on the items under discussion.

Melvin’s daughter Deborah Simon is challenging the will in court, saying her father was coerced into approving a new estate plan that dramatically increased the amount of his fortune going to Bren. She also wants her stepmother removed as trustee of the estate while the broader case is pending.

Simon Property Group, meanwhile, joined the dispute to determine whether it must honor Bren Simon’s request to convert $500 million of her late husband's ownership stake in the publicly traded company into common shares or cash.

Judge Hughes said he will cooperate if Bren's attorneys follow legal protocol in appealing to a higher court to have him removed from the case. But he refused to allow verbal arguments on the issue in open court.

"I'm not turning this into a circus for anyone's benefit" said Judge Hughes, a 22-year veteran of the bench.

His initial court hearing in the DWI case is scheduled for January.
 

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  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

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  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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