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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. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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