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Hamilton Superior judge arrested out-of-state for DWI

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Hamilton Superior Judge William J. Hughes was arrested for drunk driving last week while vacationing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

The 55-year-old judge has been on the bench since 1988. He sent out a news release on Monday night about the incident. Judge Hughes was arrested at 5:45 p.m. Oct. 27 and charged with misdemeanor driving while impaired and a traffic infraction of driving left of center, according to his statement.
 

hughes-william-mug Hughes

Though the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office could not provide any information or forward a copy of the police report, an official with the Currituck County Clerk’s Office said a uniform citation document and police affidavit shows that Judge Hughes had a blood alcohol content of .13, nearly twice as high as the state’s legal limit of .08.

“It says on the affidavit that he traveled left of center twice, and turned his turn signal on a half of mile before the turn,” Currituck County Assistant Clerk of Courts Debbie Basnight said. The incident happened near North Carolina Highway 12 and Seabird Way in Corolla along the northern Outer Banks. An officer also reported a “light odor” of alcohol on the judge’s breath, but observed that he was polite and cooperative during the incident, according to Basnight. An automatic 30-day license revocation has also been implemented against Judge Hughes, she said.

The charges are pending in The General Court of Justice, District Court Division in Currituck County, N.C. The judge was released on an unsecured bond and the court docket shows his initial court appearance scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Jan. 24, 2011.

Judge Hughes has retained Teague & Glover in Elizabeth City, N.C., on the criminal charges, and attorney Danny Glover Jr. did not return a phone call from Indiana Lawyer today. Indianapolis attorneys Kevin McGoff and James Bell with Bingham McHale are representing Judge Hughes on the judicial discipline aspects.

“I apologize to my family, my friends, my colleagues and the general public for any embarrassment that my arrest has caused them,” Judge Hughes wrote in his statement, noting that he will not be making any more public comments about this pending matter.

Judge Hughes does not have any discipline history with the Indiana system. He has presided over many high-profile cases that most recently include the Carmel High School basketball hazing case, former money manager Marcus Schrenker’s case, as well as annexation and other cases that have gone as high as the Indiana Supreme Court. He was one of three finalists for the state’s Court of Appeals in 2007. the judge's current term is set to expire at the end of 2012.

On the morning of Oct. 28, Judge Hughes 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 concludes. In the past, other trial judges who’ve faced drunken-driving charges – including Marion Superior Judge John F. Hanley in 2007 and Allen Circuit Judge Thomas Felts in 2008 – have received public reprimands for similar conduct.
 

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  • Really?
    I am shocked that comments of condemnation come from members of the bar. We complain about juries failing to honor the presumption of innocence. Yet some do the same thing here. Our knowledge of this judge is irrelevant. He is presumed innocent. Let's not simply pay lip service to the concept.
  • Equal b4 law
    Is not the judge entitled to apreumption of innocence like evevrybody else? Cut him some slack.
  • Think before you wish
    Jim, I understand your point. I don't know if this specific judge has been fair and reasonable or malicious in the past. Do you really want a judge who is perfect and white as the driven snow judging you. Such a judge may not understand what it means to be human. We don't want a perfect person affected with any degree of Asperger sitting on the bench. If anything, we need judges to be highly experienced, wise, been around the real world a time or two and be impaths.
  • Oust the Judge
    It is time to oust this guy from his position as judge. I wonder how many times he has sentenced others for even less blood alcohol content for DUI. This continues to be a trend of corruption and lack of sound and fair judgical purdance in Hamilton County, from the prosecuitors, lawyers, and the judges. But again justice here is not about what is right or wrong, fair or just, truth or deception, but all about how you "Play the Game" and spend the money.

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    1. I like the concept. Seems like a good idea and really inexpensive to manage.

    2. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

    3. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

    4. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

    5. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

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