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JQC files charge against St. Joseph Judge Peter Nemeth

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St. Joseph Probate Judge Peter Nemeth’s comments in denying an interpreter for an 18-year-old deaf person who was the subject of a guardianship proceeding have resulted in disciplinary charges filed by the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission.

Nemeth is alleged to have made derogatory comments suggesting that it was inappropriate that the litigant request that “the taxpayers pay for” an interpreter when the she “hadn’t paid taxes for several years,” according to a statement from the commission. Nemeth denied the request and ordered the litigant to provide a deaf interpreter for the permanent guardianship hearing, but later revised the order after the litigant brought the relevant portions of the Americans with Disabilities Act to the court office, according to the statement.

The commission announced a notice of the institution of formal proceedings and statement of charges against Nemeth that allege the statements made during hearings in March and May 2011 violated the following rules of the Code of Judicial Conduct:

  •  Rule 1.2, which requires judges to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary;
  •  Rule 2.2, which requires judges to perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially;
  •  Rule 2.3(B), which requires judges to not act, in the performance of judicial duties, in a manner that manifests bias or prejudice; and,
  •  Rule 2.8(b), which requires judges to be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants.

The commission also claims he engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Nemeth has served as the judge of St. Joseph Probate Court since 1993 and has been a member of the Indiana bar since 1966. Nemeth may file an answer to the charges with the Indiana Supreme Court within 20 days of receiving notice of the charges. The Indiana Supreme Court then will appoint three judges as masters to conduct a public hearing.

The Indiana Supreme Court has final authority for judicial discipline. The court can dismiss the charges or impose sanctions ranging from a reprimand to a permanent ban on holding a judicial office in Indiana.

Nemeth’s term ends this year and he is not seeking re-election.

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  • pretextual
    there is nothing here that suggests insult to the deaf person. if he said the foster parent hadnt paid taxes and it was true then so what. the interpreter was provided, no harm no foul. this complaint is most likely pretextual of some unrelated political rivalry and we all know that it probably has nothing to do with deaf and disabled anything. as for insults you insulted me, but thats ok. I am not the one who gets all heated up over offhand comments. people can have an opinion and we dont all need to wet the bed over it.
  • @John
    No, you're stupid. That Deaf son has feeling. I'm sure he felt hurt that the judge insulted him. Her foster mother not paying taxes has nothing to do with him. The judge violated rules of the Code of Judicial Conduct. I know several other judges have insulted Deaf litigants.
    • Correction
      Excuse me, I should have written title VI for limited English litigants, and title II for ADA protections for the deaf.
    • Justified and correct
      I have seen more than one judge belittle deaf litigants and give them a hard time about interpreters when the court is legally required to provide them at no cost, usually because they accept some federal funds and Title VII requires it. Why should disabled or limited English people first have to suffer some sort of humiliating verbal abuse before the judge follows his/her responsibilities and appoints an interpreter?
    • frivolous
      This complaint is stupid. I dont see where the beef is if the interpreter was actually appointed. No harm done. Somebody's trying to shame a judge for an off the cuff remark that is probably true?

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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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