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Delayed jail releases common, says witness in judge’s discipline case

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A senior judge who presided in a Marion Superior criminal court for more than a dozen years testified Friday that delayed releases of defendants from jail are a problem with the county’s entire judicial system and not limited to the court of a judge facing discipline for that and other charges.

 “There has been this problem forever,” Senior Judge Barbara Collins testified in the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s case against Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown. Brown faces 47 counts of judicial misconduct, including nine counts related to the delayed release of defendants for periods of time ranging from one to 22 days.

Collins retired from the bench of Marion Superior Criminal Court 8 at the end of 2012, and she estimated that at least once a week during most of that time she would be informed of a defendant who was still behind bars at the Marion County Jail after she had ordered release. Most of the time, it was due to staff failing to enter the judge’s orders, she said.

Collins’ testimony was admitted over the objection of Tom Carusillo, representing the JQC. Carusillo argued the line of questioning wasn’t relevant to the counts against Brown, but retired Judge Viola Taliaferro, presiding over a panel of three special masters, overruled. Brown’s attorney Aaron Haith said the line of questioning would support his argument at the opening of the case Monday that Brown was being singled out for problems endemic in the Marion Superior Courts.

As Brown has alleged, Collins also said many of the problems she encountered with delayed releases arose from staff who refused to follow proper procedures in entering minutes on antiquated computer systems, and that the problems seldom arose from errors made by jail staff.

Collins said that when she took over for a retiring judge she encountered resentments among staff, similar to those which Brown alleged when she moved to a new criminal division courtroom.

“There was a lot of conflict and I had to watch my back,” Collins said of moving into Criminal Court 8 more than a dozen years earlier. She said staff often bickered and left work early with stacks of paperwork that had not been entered. She said there were issues of ghost employment, among other things.

“People just decided they’re not going to do things,” she said.

Carusillo pressed Collins on why she didn’t terminate employees or report those problems to court administrators, and she noted that at the beginning of her time on the Marion Superior bench there wasn’t anyone to report to. She said she did terminate some staff for unexcused absences or for lying to her, and she discussed the problems with delayed releases informally with other judges and attorneys, though not through a formal complaint with the Marion Superior Executive Committee.

“I am very outspoken and I tell it like it is, and I fix things,” Collins said at one point. The problem with delayed releases had improved during the last several months she was on the bench, she said, but she nevertheless still received reports at least a few times a month from public defenders or others of someone held at the jail who she had ordered released.

Carusillo angered Collins at one point by asking whether her level of contact with Haith increased after the commission filed its disciplinary petition against Brown. “I’m affronted by that question,” she said.

Haith followed up and asked Collins whether he would be able to influence her testimony. “There is never anytime you would have told me what to do,” Collins said.

Brown’s hearing is expected to continue through Sunday in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom in the Statehouse. Taliaferro said earlier this week the masters expected to conclude the hearing by the end of the weekend.

The masters will ultimately provide recommendations on what discipline, if any, Brown should receive, and the matter will be decided by the Indiana Supreme Court.


 

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  • Seventh Circuit concerned
    Those who wonder if the Seventh Circuit has concerns about Indiana should read this articlehttp://www.theindianalawyer.com/th-circuit-blasts-lawyers-in-reinstating-malicious-prosecution-suit/PARAMS/article/32662
  • a theme has emerged
    The actions of the Indianapolis judicial authorites (Dixon, Ogden, Farmer, recent 7th cir rebuke, etc) and nonaction (above, Conour, not filing mandatory annual reports, Conour, Conour, Conour) has forged a theme ... Indiana as a third rate banana republic, judicially speaking. My attorney friends from Kansas are constantly amazed by what this paper reports, seemingly without causing any in Indy to even blush. Perhaps, based upon the above testimony, the Seventh Circuit should takeover the Indiana justice system for a few years and install something approximating an American system, or at the very least something that that would not "affront" Lady Justice?

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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