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Hamilton County judge pleads guilty to reckless driving

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Longtime Hamilton Superior Judge William J. Hughes pleaded guilty Monday in a North Carolina court, avoiding a drunken driving conviction for a lesser count of reckless driving that means a year of unsupervised probation.

The judge’s guilty plea comes about six months after he was arrested while vacationing along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. His blood alcohol content of 0.13 was nearly twice as high as the state’s legal limit of 0.08, and he was charged with misdemeanor driving while impaired and a traffic infraction of driving left of center.

At a hearing Monday in the Currituck County District Court, Judge Hughes pleaded guilty to reckless driving. His sentence is 12 months of unsupervised probation, and he must enroll and complete an alcohol and drug assessment program within 180 days or attend at least 10 hours of substance abuse counseling, as well as not operate a vehicle within eight hours of consuming any alcohol. The judge also paid a $300 fine and $143 in court costs.

Judge Hughes retained Teague & Glover in Elizabeth City, N.C. on the criminal charges, but attorney Keith Teague couldn’t be reached this morning and the judge was out of his office today.

First joining the bench in 1988, Judge Hughes does not have any previous discipline history with the Indiana system. The judge self-reported his out-of-state arrest to the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission. Generally, any disciplinary charges come once the criminal case is complete. The Indiana Supreme Court would make any final decision on discipline once that process begins. In the past, other trial judges who’ve faced drunken-driving charges have received public reprimands for similar conduct.

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

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  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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