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Commission wants judge suspended now

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The Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission agrees with a three-masters panel that a Marion Superior judge should be removed from the bench but wants him immediately suspended while the Indiana Supreme Court considers his final punishment.

A two-page recommendation and 18-page memorandum of support came from the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications Friday, a response to a recommendation from a masters panel Nov. 7. That 70-page decision found Marion Superior Judge Grant Hawkins violated canons and committed 10 counts of judicial misconduct relating to how he supervised his court, and that the appropriate sanction should be removal.

The Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission filed charges in April accusing him and former Commissioner Nancy Broyles of misconduct, which in large part led to a pattern of case delays and one that resulted in wrongfully convicted Harold Buntin being kept in prison almost two years after DNA cleared him of a crime. She has since resigned and been permanently banned from the bench. The panel conducted a two-day hearing for the judge in early October.

Charges are that he didn't adequately supervise his staff and the commissioner, and that the lack of supervision led to a pattern of delays, including Buntin's. The masters acknowledged Judge Hawkins' apology and remorse. If it weren't for what resulted in the Buntin case, they said they normally would have recommended a suspension without pay because of how he generally handled the post-conviction relief issues.

In its response, the Judicial Qualifications Commission agreed with the panel in full and said an immediate suspension and subsequent removal is the only adequate solution.

"Ultimately, the Commission believes that Judge Hawkins' negligent and inexplicably casual approach to the Buntin case and the general operation of his court caused a significant loss of liberty to Mr. Buntin, numerous violations of procedural due process to other petitioners, and a general breakdown of the public's trust for countless others interested in the efficient operations of the criminal justice system," the memorandum says. "In balancing all the circumstances, the Commission concludes that the damage to the reputation and to the public's perception of Indiana's judiciary will be repaired only if Judge Hawkins is removed from office."

The Indiana Supreme Court will get the case to consider what penalty to issue after a procedural response period; Judge Hawkins is allowed 20 days to challenge the recommendations and then the commission has 10 days to respond from that. Justices aren't bound by any timeline once they receive the case for consideration.

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  1. I need an experienced attorney to handle a breach of contract matter. Kindly respond for more details. Graham Young

  2. I thought the slurs were the least grave aspects of her misconduct, since they had nothing to do with her being on the bench. Why then do I suspect they were the focus? I find this a troubling trend. At least she was allowed to keep her law license.

  3. Section 6 of Article I of the Indiana Constitution is pretty clear and unequivocal: "Section 6. No money shall be drawn from the treasury for the benefit of any religious or theological institution."

  4. Video pen? Nice work, "JW"! Let this be a lesson and a caution to all disgruntled ex-spouses (or soon-to-be ex-spouses) . . . you may think that altercation is going to get you some satisfaction . . . it will not.

  5. First comment on this thread is a fitting final comment on this thread, as that the MCBA never answered Duncan's fine question, and now even Eric Holder agrees that the MCBA was in material error as to the facts: "I don't get it" from Duncan December 1, 2014 5:10 PM "The Grand Jury met for 25 days and heard 70 hours of testimony according to this article and they made a decision that no crime occurred. On what basis does the MCBA conclude that their decision was "unjust"? What special knowledge or evidence does the MCBA have that the Grand Jury hearing this matter was unaware of? The system that we as lawyers are sworn to uphold made a decision that there was insufficient proof that officer committed a crime. How can any of us say we know better what was right than the jury that actually heard all of the the evidence in this case."

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