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Former commissioner testifies against judge

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A former Marion County commissioner took the stand against the judge she once worked for, hinting at a pattern of disorganization in his courtroom. However, she took most of the blame for an almost two-year delay in releasing a man who had been cleared of rape charges.

Former Marion Superior Criminal 5 Commissioner Nancy Broyles - off the bench since her retirement in April - testified in the second of a two-day hearing regarding Marion Superior Judge Grant Hawkins, who now solely faces multiple misconduct charges for alleged dereliction of duty and delay. His hearing began Monday morning and stretched until 8 p.m.; the hearing started again today at 8 a.m. and is expected to last all day.

"To see innuendo after innuendo piled on, it's disheartening," Judge Hawkins said today on a break outside the Indiana Supreme Court's courtroom, where the hearing is being conducted. "Sure, there are blind spots and mistakes may have happened, but they're saying I misled ... I'm not that guy."

The Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission in April filed about a dozen charges against Broyles and Judge Hawkins, alleging delay and dereliction of duties relating to the handling of various cases. The counts against Broyles dealt with her involvement with 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 Broyles. She isn't practicing law since her retirement and will never again be able to sit as a judge in any matter, including pro tem work.

Broyles' attorneys, James Voyles and Jennifer Lukemeyer, sat near her as she testified this morning in front of a three-judge panel.

"I was the cause ... I did not handle this well," she testified.

With its witnesses so far, Disciplinary Commission attorney Adrienne Meiring described a disorganized and delay-ridden court that Judge Hawkins failed to adequately supervise.

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.

The nearly dozen witnesses called yesterday included court employees, Buntin and his sister, and Indianapolis attorney Carolyn Rader, who had originally represented Buntin on the post-conviction claim. Witnesses this morning included court staff, as well as Broyles and Judge Hawkins before a lunch break.

Broyles said she regrets the delays and what happened, saying she agonized and stressed about this case and how to best respond to it - even during the delay when she took it under advisement in 2005 and when the post-conviction relief notice came in March 2007. Buntin was released in April 2007.

In taking responsibility, Broyles said she didn't know the exact reasons for the delays, but she had no reason to think the judge had misled anyone on the matter.

"I've never known him to be dishonest; never had anyone accuse him of it," she said. "I can't speak more highly to his honesty than that."

She did indicate that just prior to leaving the bench this spring, a check with court administration showed that Criminal Court 5 continued to have too many PCR cases open, an issue that testimony indicated may have been caused by staff not correctly closing files.

Judge Hawkins spent about an hour prior to the lunch break discussing his educational and professional background, including time as chair of the Indiana Supreme Court's Disciplinary Commission, as well as initial points about his court's operations and setup.

Character witnesses and more testimony from Judge Hawkins were expected this afternoon. Among those testifying were Indianapolis attorney Robert Hammerle.

The three judicial masters - Delaware Circuit Judge Marianne Vorhees, Lake Superior Judge Clarence Murray, and Elkhart Circuit Judge Terry Shewmaker - are presiding over the case and expected to issue a report during 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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