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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 just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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