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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. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

      2. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

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      4. Been on social security sense sept 2011 2massive strokes open heart surgery and serious ovarian cancer and a blood clot in my lung all in 14 months. Got a letter in may saying that i didn't qualify and it was in form like i just applied ,called social security she said it don't make sense and you are still geting a check in june and i did ,now i get a check from my part D asking for payment for july because there will be no money for my membership, call my prescription coverage part D and confirmed no check will be there.went to social security they didn't want to answer whats going on just said i should of never been on it .no one knows where this letter came from was California im in virginia and been here sense my strokes and vcu filed for my disability i was in the hospital when they did it .It's like it was a error . My ,mothers social security was being handled in that office in California my sister was dealing with it and it had my social security number because she died last year and this letter came out of the same office and it came at the same time i got the letter for my mother benefits for death and they had the same date of being typed just one was on the mail Saturday and one on Monday. . I think it's a mistake and it should been fixed instead there just getting rid of me .i never got a formal letter saying when i was being tsken off.

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