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JQC: Strike Judge Brown’s apology, support from Sullivan in discipline case

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Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown’s last-minute apology and vouching from former Indiana Justice Frank Sullivan Jr. should not be considered in her disciplinary case, the Judicial Qualifications Commission argued in a brief filed Thursday.

The JQC argues Brown’s submission to discipline in lieu of findings and Sullivan’s affidavit filed in support should be stricken as untimely and outside the record of her 47-count disciplinary case heard last month by a panel of special masters appointed by the Indiana Supreme Court.

“Many assertions in (Brown’s) affidavit (and Justice Sullivan’s affidavit) were known to (Brown) prior to the evidentiary hearing but not submitted to the Masters,” the commission argued in its response to Brown’s latest filing. “Further, a number of (Brown’s) assertions are in direct conflict with the evidence presented at the hearing,” the JQC’s filing says.

Brown’s contrition isn’t a meaningful acceptance of responsibility, and she has continued to delay rulings, according to the JQC filing. “The Commission submits (Brown’s) latest filing simply is too little, too late.”

The JQC is urging the special masters to recommend the Indiana Supreme Court remove Brown from the bench. Justices ordered the case move on an expedited schedule and asked the masters to file a report by Dec. 30. Brown suggests the masters recommend a 60-day suspension from the bench.

Brown’s 47-count disciplinary hearing before a panel of three special masters is believed to be the longest and most extensive against a judge in the JQC’s history. She is accused of delayed releases of at least nine defendants from the Marion County Jail – in one case for 22 days. She is also accused of a host of rule violations, including failing to properly oversee her court, improperly supervising trials, failing to act on Court of Appeals orders, showing hostility toward parties who came before her, and retaliating against court staff who complained, among other things.

At her hearing, Brown was represented by attorney Aaron Haith of Choate & Haith who attempted to portray the judge as singled out for problems he argued were endemic in the Marion Superior courts.

Before the proceedings, justices alerted counsel that parties should not request continuances or extensions except in emergencies or under extraordinary circumstances. On Nov. 25, Haith requested an extension of time to file proposed findings after the hearing, according to the case docket, which also shows the masters granted his request Dec. 2, extending the deadline to noon that same day. Proposed findings were not filed.

Subsequently, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP partner Karl Mulvaney appeared on Brown’s behalf and filed the submission to discipline in lieu of findings that also contained Sullivan’s affidavit, after which Haith withdrew. The brief Mulvaney filed, and which the commission now objects to, argues elements of Brown’s defense were “ill-advised.”

Sullivan’s affidavit supplemented Brown’s latest filing. He wrote that he was disappointed and saddened by the charges. “I believe the events surrounding the charges against Judge Brown are the result of a series of unfortunate events and circumstances,” he said, noting he talked with Brown and counseled her on the need for professionalism and civility. “She advises that she has taken the charges in this regard to heart and that the investigation in this case … caused her to become a better judge.”

But the commission in response says that’s not so, and that Brown’s filing is neither a set of proposed findings nor timely filed for the masters to consider.

“These affidavits also put the Commission at a disadvantage, as the Commission has not been given an opportunity to cross-examine (Brown) or former Justice Sullivan on the new matters (Brown) offers.”

The commission brief says Brown “asserts that she ‘has maintained a work schedule where she is usually in the office by 8 a.m. and usually stays until after 5 p.m. to work on her cases’ … and former Justice Sullivan offers a personal and professional character reference.

“The Commission certainly would have cross-examined both witnesses on these matters and confronted them with evidence which discredits these assertions,” the JQC filing says.

At Brown’s hearing, the commission set the tone, opening by admitting into evidence video from her deposition in which the judge defiantly refuses to take an oath, claiming that because she is a judge, she is bound to the truth. The commission brief says such behavior doesn’t instill public confidence.

Brown’s “conduct, demeanor, and tactics during the investigation and proceedings simply do little to assure the citizens of this State that she, indeed, will do better going forward,” the JQC brief says.


 

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  • KUDOS
    Kudos to Judicial Qualifications Commission attorneys Meiring and Carusillo for a very well written and well argued brief. (link above, do read it to understand this case) I was the subject of a 31 page brief from judicial enforcers that cited not one legal precedent, it is great to see that attorneys working for the Ind S.Ct. can actually brief in a professional and lawyerlike manner. The evidence to remove Judge Kimberly Brown is overwhelming .... but who in the bar would want to litigate against her given the tactics demonstrated and documented? Will she remain an attorney after riding so very roughshod over the very system that attorneys are called to uphold? Very scary that her conduct has been going on for years in Marion County, seemingly with little as to review, and that she was evidently disciplined for similar conduct while in small claims court years ago, but was still promoted and not put on probation. How sad for Indiana that political connections and political correctness seems to have driven the judiciary for the past decades, and that too many times the disciplinary power is either not used (Conour) or used for all the wrong reasons (Ogden). And then there is my five year bar from the Ind bar, while yet in good standing in Kansas (I still am) and fully admitted to the Ind federal courts even after the IBLE slammed me to the ground for my religious views. Much to be fixed in Indiana, but this story does give much hope that the new IND S.Ct. wants to see the problems fixed, even while the old system fights for the likes of Kimberly Brown. (An affidavit from a former S.Ct. justice that the Commission stands prepared to shred in cross examination ... how sad for Indiana) How telling too!

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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