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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 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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