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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. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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