Indiana: 'model' for judicial accountability

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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A national watchdog group has ranked Indiana seventh in the nation for how it holds its state and federal judges accountable.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, nonpartisan organization HALT, Inc. - Help Abolish Legal Tyranny - gave the Hoosier state's program a "C+" on its report card, which it claims is the first study of its kind in the nation. Both Indiana and Nevada received the 7th-place ranking.

A press release about the state's ranking cited Indiana as "exemplary" in some respects including consumer-friendly policies, public outreach, and not prohibiting individuals from speaking publicly about ethics complaints against judges. HALT also praised the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission's Web site for being easy to navigate and clearly explaining the judicial disciplinary process.

In keeping with the report card theme, the organization gave Indiana demerits for failing to place meaningful limitations on the reimbursement and compensation judges can take in connection with privately funded trips. The fact the Judicial Qualifications Commission relies primarily on private sanctions also lowered Indiana's overall grade.

Despite these flaws, HALT's senior counsel Suzanne M. Blonder cites Indiana as a model for the rest of the nation in several significant areas.

HALT graded all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the federal circuits. Washington State took top honors with a "B." No state received an "A." Mississippi and Maine received flunking scores.

Click here to view HALT's report card on Indiana.

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  1. Heritage, what Heritage? The New Age is dawning .... an experiment in disordered liberty and social fragmentation is upon us .... "Carmel City Council approved a human rights ordinance with a 4-3 vote Monday night after hearing about two hours of divided public testimony. The ordinance bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, among other traits. Council members Rick Sharp, Carol Schleif, Sue Finkam and Ron Carter voted in favor of it. The three council members opposing it—Luci Snyder, Kevin Rider and Eric Seidensticker—all said they were against any form of discrimination, but had issues with the wording and possible unintended consequences of the proposal." Kardashian is the new Black.

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