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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. Paul Ogden doing a fine job of remembering his peer Gary Welsh with the post below and a call for an Indy gettogether to celebrate Gary .... http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2016/05/indiana-loses-citizen-journalist-giant.html Castaways of Indiana, unite!

  2. It's unfortunate that someone has attempted to hijack the comments to promote his own business. This is not an article discussing the means of preserving the record; no matter how it's accomplished, ethics and impartiality are paramount concerns. When a party to litigation contracts directly with a reporting firm, it creates, at the very least, the appearance of a conflict of interest. Court reporters, attorneys and judges are officers of the court and must abide by court rules as well as state and federal laws. Parties to litigation have no such ethical responsibilities. Would we accept insurance companies contracting with judges? This practice effectively shifts costs to the party who can least afford it while reducing costs for the party with the most resources. The success of our justice system depends on equal access for all, not just for those who have the deepest pockets.

  3. As a licensed court reporter in California, I have to say that I'm sure that at some point we will be replaced by speech recognition. However, from what I've seen of it so far, it's a lot farther away than three years. It doesn't sound like Mr. Hubbard has ever sat in a courtroom or a deposition room where testimony is being given. Not all procedures are the same, and often they become quite heated with the ends of question and beginning of answers overlapping. The human mind can discern the words to a certain extent in those cases, but I doubt very much that a computer can yet. There is also the issue of very heavy accents and mumbling. People speak very fast nowadays, and in order to do that, they generally slur everything together, they drop or swallow words like "the" and "and." Voice recognition might be able to produce some form of a transcript, but I'd be very surprised if it produces an accurate or verbatim transcript, as is required in the legal world.

  4. Really enjoyed the profile. Congratulations to Craig on living the dream, and kudos to the pros who got involved to help him realize the vision.

  5. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

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