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Embattled judge responds to suspension bid: ‘can and will learn’ from mistakes

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A Marion Superior judge facing a 45-count disciplinary complaint responded today to a petition for her suspension by saying, “She is resolute that she can and will learn from what has been alleged, and that she will redouble her efforts to proceed.”

Judge Kimberly Brown’s response was filed before a Supreme Court-imposed noon deadline today to answer a verified petition for suspension on multiple allegations. Brown is accused of a litany of charges, including that her actions led to the delayed release of at least nine defendants who wrongly spent 1 to 22 days in jail, and that she created “a hostile environment for attorneys, court staff, clerks, and other court officials.”

The Judicial Qualifications Commission on Aug. 26 issued a verified petition for suspension, alleging those violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct and also accusing Brown of failing to properly supervise staff and court officers. Brown also is charged with improperly converting jury trials to bench trials and causing needless delays.

Brown’s response and a further detailed memorandum prepared by Indianapolis attorney Aaron Haith strikes a contrite, conciliatory and corrective tone and asks the justices to deny the petition for suspension and allow her to continue to preside “until an adjudication of all issues is reached.” No proceedings before the JQC had been scheduled as of today.   

“Judge Brown states that it has never been her intent to knowingly fail to oversee and train her staff. Judge Brown recognizes that it is her responsibility to be certain the staff performs in a fair and reasonable manner and to the best of their abilities,” the response says.

Brown specifically denies one of 10 generalized areas of complaints against her: that she retaliated against and fired a court employee she believed had filed or was planning to file an ethics complaint against her. “Judge Brown submits that she has not done this in the past nor will she do this in the future,” the response says.

Among the most damning allegations against Brown are charges that her failure to properly document and follow through with court orders resulted in the improper jailing of nine defendants on misdemeanor charges – one for 22 days, another for 17 days. Brown responds that she is determined “to address every concern stated by the Commission and accept responsibility and correct any problems or omissions that have been made.”

Brown sought in the memorandum to distinguish her case from prior judicial discipline cases that involved suspension of one judge and removal of another.

 “Contrary to the arguments of the Commission, (Brown) does not present a similar issue of court management as was addressed by the Court in Matter of Hawkins, 902 N.E.2d 231 (Ind. 2009),” the response says, referring to a divided opinion in which Marion Superior Judge Grant Hawkins was suspended for 60 days.

“The delays caused by (Brown) and her staff are not the result of a lack of internal management systems aimed at addressing the specific problem, though the system may have proven to be inadequate. The fact that delayed releases continue within the court system, including (Brown’s court), is most discouraging and requires additional concern.”

“Judge Brown’s conduct thus far is not one of a persistent failure to perform judicial duties over a long period of time as was found in Matter of Kouros, 816 N.E.2d 21 (Ind. 2002),” the memorandum says, referring to the removal of twice-suspended Lake Superior Judge Joan Kouros for a number of administrative failings.

Brown’s response makes repeated assertions that corrective action has been taken in regard to allegations or that she is working with court staff to implement changes.  

“While (Brown) can understand that some may perceive her actions as hostile, she feels she is level handed in her treatment of all persons she works with and those who appear before her whether a litigant or party,” the response memorandum says. “She nonetheless believes that while she has been cooperative with counsel and fellow judges, she can and will always strive to be better.”


 

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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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