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Embattled judge sorry, proposes 60-day suspension

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Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown is apologizing for alleged judicial misconduct that resulted in 47 disciplinary counts against her, proposing to the Indiana Supreme Court that she be suspended for two months. She also says her prior defense, including refusing to take a deposition oath, was “ill-advised.”

“Judge Brown is sorry and apologizes to the (Judicial Qualifications) Commission, the Court and the people of Indiana for her conduct which was prejudicial to the administration of justice and a violation of the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct, and asks that a suspension of sixty (60) days be imposed, consistent with prior judicial discipline cases,” according to a filing on Brown’s behalf.

Brown filed a submission to discipline in lieu of submission of findings Wednesday that said she admits to the disciplinary violations in most cases and accepts responsibility for delayed releases of defendants, failure to properly administer cases and hostile treatment of court staff and attorneys.

“Though inexcusable, Judge Brown assures the Court, Commission and the public that none of her actions, or failures to act, in connection with the failure to timely rule on certain matters was intentional,” the brief says.

Brown also submitted an affidavit in which she says she tried to address disciplinary matters after the commission contacted her and expresses regret for the way she is alleged to have behaved toward officers of the court and staff.

“In connection with the allegations of inappropriate demeanor, this action has caused me to engage in careful introspection,” Brown says in the affidavit. “I apologize for any thoughtless, or less than caring statements made, and pledge to conduct myself and the court with the utmost professionalism at all times.”

Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan said the justices will determine what the proper punishment should be in Brown’s case. The JQC previously recommended Brown be removed from office.

Brown’s eight-day-long hearing before a panel of three special masters is believed to be the longest such case on record. Brown was represented by attorneys Aaron Haith and Belle Choate during those hearing but her filing Wednesday was accompanied by the appearance of Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP partner Karl Mulvaney.

Brown “recognizes that some aspects of her defense were ill-advised, such as her refusal to take the oath when testifying in depositions,” according to the brief prepared by Mulvaney. “She has also retained new counsel to assist with her decision to present this Submission to Discipline and not to submit findings to specifically dispute the facts and charges.”

Brown “believes it is not useful to even attempt to rebut facts and arguments she believes are not well taken by the Commission where it is clear her conduct, and the conduct of the courts for which she was responsible, amounted to conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice,” the filing says.

Former Justice Frank Sullivan Jr. also submitted an affidavit in support of Brown’s motion. Sullivan said he’s known Brown since 2007 and worked with her as an early adopter in implementing the Odyssey Case Management System in the Marion County Small Claims Court in Washington Township.

Sullivan wrote that he was disappointed and saddened by the charges against Brown. “I believe the events surrounding the charges against Judge Brown are the result of a series of unfortunate events and circumstances,” Sullivan says in the affidavit.

The former justice said he’s talked with Brown and counseled her on the need for professionalism and civility. “She advises that she has taken the charges in this regard to heart and that the investigation in this case … caused her to become a better judge.”

Sullivan wrote he offered to mentor Brown and visit her court monthly for a probationary period and report whether Brown is “fulfilling her pledge to maintain a high state of court efficiency and professionalism.”

In support of her argument for a 60-day suspension, Brown cites three prior judicial discipline cases she says are comparable and resulted in that punishment: In re Hawkins, 902 N.E.2d 231 (Ind. 2009), In re Kouras, 816 N.E.2d 21 (Ind. 2004) and In re Danikolas, 838 N.E.2d 422 (Ind. 2005).
 

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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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