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Disciplinary case ends for 1, continues for judge

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A Marion County commissioner has resolved the judicial disciplinary action against her, though a similar case against her supervising judge proceeded today with the start of a two-day hearing.

The Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission in April filed nearly two dozen charges against Commissioner Nancy Broyles and Marion Superior Judge Grant Hawkins, alleging delay and dereliction of duties relating to the handling of various cases. Mostly, the counts dealt with Commissioner Broyles' involvement handling a post-conviction case that resulted in Indianapolis man Harold Buntin being held in prison for nearly two years after DNA evidence cleared him of a 1984 rape.

Late last week, a resolution came in the action against Commissioner Broyles, but details aren't yet available. One of her attorneys, James Voyles, confirmed a resolution has been filed but couldn't elaborate because nothing has been formalized and because the commissioner will testify at Judge Hawkins' hearing Tuesday.

Her case had been consolidated with the one against Judge Hawkins, who appeared today in the Indiana Supreme Court's courtroom for the disciplinary hearing before three judicial masters - Delaware Circuit Judge Marianne Vorhees, Lake Superior Judge Clarence Murray, and Elkhart Circuit Judge Terry Shewmaker.

Disciplinary commission attorney Adrienne Meiring described a disorganized and delay-ridden court where Judge Hawkins failed to provide adequate supervision, while defense attorney Kevin McGoff contended that the sitting judge wasn't personally responsible for actions he wasn't aware of and at no time misled the investigating commission or parties involved in the case.

"While this begins with Mr. Buntin's complaints (against the court), it doesn't end there," Meiring said. "This is not one simple mistake .... When it came to PCRs in Marion Superior 5, it was a court in complete disarray. Judge Hawkins' lack of supervision led to a culture of indifference."

Judicial Qualifications Commission attorney Meg Babcock, who withdrew as counsel in this case to testify, spoke about her initial investigation that led to the disciplinary charges. She couldn't at first determine the case status by the chronological summary and couldn't get access to the file because court staff said it was in an archive storage area.

McGoff admitted that while there was a breakdown in the communication system somewhere, it wasn't the judge's direct fault.

Buntin's attorney, Carolyn Rader, communicated with Commissioner Broyles by e-mail, phone, and inquiry, but chose not to bring it to the judge's attention, she testified.

At one point, four months after the case had been taken under advisement, Rader testified that Commissioner Broyles came to her in mid-2005 in another courtroom and said she needed to get started on work in the Buntin case. That didn't surprise Rader because of the commissioner's well-known delays in issuing rulings that meant attorneys frequently had to check cases to make sure everything was in order. Rader said she also didn't want to file a "lazy judge" motion because that would have created unwanted friction for the court and possibly her client, Buntin.

"I didn't consider going to (Judge) Hawkins as advisable. I didn't want to cause friction between them, didn't want to get her in trouble, didn't want to raise Cain, didn't want to jeopardize Buntin's position," she said.

The hearing is expected to last through Tuesday. A report is expected from the three-judge panel in the first week of November.

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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