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Indicted judge to be suspended

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The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has filed a notice with the Indiana Supreme Court for a request of suspension of LaPorte Superior Judge Jennifer Koethe, who was indicted Thursday for attempted obstruction of justice stemming from a shooting incident at her home in December.

Judge Koethe was a judge-elect when she was grazed by a bullet during a shooting in her home Dec. 22, 2008. She was briefly hospitalized and took the bench shortly after the incident.

Commission staff attorney Adrienne Meiring filed the request for suspension today based on Rule 25 of the Indiana Rules of Court for admission and discipline that requires a judicial officer shall be suspended with pay by the Supreme Court upon the filing of an indictment of a felony charge, said Indiana Supreme Court spokesperson Kathryn Dolan.

The grand jury indicted Judge Koethe with attempted obstruction of justice, a Class D felony, finding she requested a handwritten note that was evidence in an official investigation be disposed of, according to court documents. The indictment doesn't specify what the note said.

Her husband, Stephan, was indicted on two counts - Class A misdemeanor false informing, and Class B misdemeanor criminal recklessness for handling and loading a firearm while intoxicated and during an argument with another intoxicated person. Her husband told a local news station shortly after the shooting that the judge accidentally shot herself while handling a gun that she believed was empty.

In January, Special Judge Walter Chapala ordered all firearms removed from the Koethes' home and for the couple to abstain from drinking alcohol whenever Stephan's children from a previous marriage would be in their care. Special Prosecutor Michael A. Dvorak of St. Joseph County asked April 18 for the grand jury investigation of the shooting.

Judge Koethe currently presides in LaPorte Superior 3. As a result of the criminal charge filed against the judge, Lake Superior Judge Thomas P. Stefaniak has been appointed by the Supreme Court to preside over Judge Koethe's case. The entire LaPorte County judiciary recused themselves from hearing the matter to avoid the appearance of impropriety, Dolan said.

Dolan said the Supreme Court is handling the request for suspension as quickly as possible.

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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