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Hamilton County judge receives public reprimand

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The Indiana Supreme Court issued a public reprimand against Hamilton Superior Judge William J. Hughes, the disciplinary sanction stemming from an out-of-state drunk driving arrest.

In a per curiam opinion issued Friday, the court culminated the case of In The Matter of the Hon. William J. Hughes,  No. 29S00-1105-JD-279. The justices agreed with the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications, which had reached an agreement with Judge Hughes for a public reprimand.

Judge Hughes was arrested Oct. 27, 2010, after being pulled over in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.13 — nearly twice the state’s legal limit of 0.08. He was charged with driving while impaired and a traffic infraction of driving left of center, and a day after his arrest he notified the Indiana judicial qualifications commission about what had happened.

In April, the prosecutor dismissed the DWI charge for a lower misdemeanor reckless driving charge, and Judge Hughes pleaded guilty. His criminal sanction: 12 months of unsupervised probation that includes enrolling and completing an alcohol and drug assessment program within 180 days or attending at least 10 hours of substance abuse counseling, and a stipulation that he won’t operate a vehicle within eight hours of consuming any alcohol. The judge also paid $443 in fines and court costs.

“At no time during the criminal proceedings did Respondent attempt in any way to gain an advantage because he is a judge,” the Supreme Court wrote. “Rather, the criminal proceedings were handled in the customary fashion for the jurisdiction.”

The commission asserted that Judge Hughes violated Rule 1.1 and 1.2 of the state judicial conduct code — provisions that say a jurist will comply with the law and at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary.

First joining the bench in 1988, Judge Hughes does not have any previous discipline history with the Indiana system before this public reprimand. This sanction is one that other trial judges have received for similar conduct in recent years.

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    The average citizen would not receive reckless driving for BA over the legal limit. The average hamilton county indiana citizen must refrain from drinking. The averge citizen in Hamilton County Indiana would have DL suspended for 90 days. Unfair balance in justice in Hamilton County Indiana. Didn't he resist being finger printed and resisted arrest. This is just plain wrong.

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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