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Judge facing discipline refused to take deposition oath

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Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown refused to be sworn during a deposition before the Judicial Qualifications Commission – a videotaped moment of defiance used against her Monday at the outset of her weeklong disciplinary case.

Over the objection of Brown’s attorneys, the three-judge panel of special masters allowed into evidence the judge’s videotaped refusal to swear to tell the truth during an Aug. 1 deposition in the case that now includes 47 counts of judicial misconduct.

“I am always an officer of the court,” Brown says in refusing to take the oath. “I am a judge.”

Meanwhile, Brown’s attorneys said the case against her is a result of problems with her court staff and that she’s being singled out for delayed releases of criminal defendants that have happened with other Marion Superior judges.

Brown was the first witness called in a hearing expected to last at least through the end of this week and possibly into next week. Brown wiped away tears as she attempted to explain why she refused to be sworn in the deposition. “I believe I’m always an officer of the court and therefore always bound to the truth,” she said.

“But you decided to do something different today,” JQC attorney Adrienne Meiring said after Brown took an oath before the masters. Retired Monroe Circuit Judge Viola Taliaferro is presiding over the panel that includes Boone Superior Judge Rebecca S. McClure and Lake Superior Judge Sheila M. Moss.

Meiring pointed Brown to rules of evidence requiring witnesses be sworn and admitted into evidence the statutes governing oaths that judges and other public officials such as police officers must take. Taliaferro asked Brown multiple times to explain why she believed she wasn’t required to swear an oath at the deposition.

“I wasn’t basing it on anything other than I’m always an officer of the court,” Brown said.

Meiring argued that Brown’s refusal to be sworn at the deposition illustrated the nature of many of the complaints against her. The charges against Brown include allegations that she delayed release of at least nine defendants – in one case for 22 days – failed to properly oversee her court, was hostile toward parties who came before and retaliated against court staff who complained, among other things.

Meiring opened by using Brown’s alleged words against her – “This isn’t McDonald’s … It’ll get ruled on when it gets ruled on,” Meiring said. “This is not simply a situation of a bad day.

“This is systemic neglect and failing to do her judicial duty,” she said, calling Brown’s demeanor “rampant disrespect and abuse of various court officials and actors who came before her.”

Brown’s attorney Aaron Haith sought to shift blame from the judge to a “sour staff” that he said she inherited when she moved between criminal court divisions at the City-County Building. Brown hears a docket of mainly domestic misdemeanor and Class D felony cases.

“It is a high-stress position for a judge,” Haith said. He said Brown also tried to change the court staff but was unable to do so. He told the judges that the evidence presented to them this week will show questions of staff integrity, staff knowledge and staff training.

The quality of staff performance, Haith said, “can be a help or a hindrance to the court.”

Haith also argued that Brown was being singled out for oversights that she has in common with other judges on the Marion Superior bench. “They all had problems … with delayed releases” of people wrongly held at the Marion County Jail, he said.

“They’re not judged,” Haith said. “Judge Brown is.”

Haith said the Marion Superior Executive Committee has instituted training for judges because of problems of delayed releases for which Brown is being disciplined, and he cited a lack of communications between the courts and the jail for the problem of defendants being held longer than a judge has ordered. “You will find all the judges are suffering or worried” about the problems, Haith told the panel.

Meiring later pressed Brown on her initial responses to the JQC’s charges against her in which she accepted responsibility in some cases and later denied responsibility in an amended response.

“I’m denying that I violated the Code of Judicial Conduct,” Brown said in response to questions about the underlying facts of a case in which a defendant was wrongly jailed.

Meiring argued that Brown had shown a lack of cooperation with the commission, an assertion to which Haith objected. Meiring noted that in depositions, Brown had responded to yes-or-no questions by saying “the record speaks for itself” 106 times.

Brown’s hearing is open to the public and will continue this week in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom or conference room at the Statehouse.
 

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  • Tom, it is pretty much as you say
    As is fairly typical in all Western legal systems founded since Greco-Romantimes, witnesses in Indiana courts are mandated to make an oath or affirmation. The Indiana Court‘s operating procedures codify this rule in an attempt to ensure that all recognize its searing search for the truth. The Court Rules require that ―[b]efore testifying, every witness shall swear or affirm to testify to the truth …‖ Indiana Rule of Evidence 603 (emp.add.) This requirement is further codified atInd.Stat.Ann 34-45-1-2, where the previously quoted sentence is followed by the requirement that ―the mode of administering an oath must be the most consistentwith and binding upon the conscience …‖ An oath is sworn to. An affirmation is affirmed. They have this in common:both subject the person making it to the penalties for perjury and thus meet thecriteria our justice systems seek for testimonial evidence. According to Rule 603 , ― every witness shall swear or affirm to testify to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth‖ prior to the reception of their testimony. All officers of the court recognize the reason for this solemnization it subjects the testifier to the pains of perjury and awakens in them the need to bevery careful in their testimony.Simple (and usually uncontroverted) logic reveals that an Indiana witnesswho fails to swear or affirm can offer no testimony to the judicial system. From the appellant brief cited in this thread
  • Oath vs Instruction to Tell the Truth
    The oath is just a senseless formality that should be replaced by a simple instruction to the witness that the witness is required to tell the truth.
    • No Oath?
      No bench!
    • although some dare call it corruption
      Of course, the Judge's attorneys will not care, but I think she is acting like a corrupt official by refusing to take an oath ..... but in Indiana, such is my experience, as this brief recounts and argues against ... http://www.scribd.com/doc/63853640/Appellants-reply-brf-112164
    • ... that is the question
      The Judge's attorneys should take a look at section 2 of this brief as well, the Indiana AG saying it is quite OK to rule on nonsworn evidence, to quote a leading light of the left, what difference does it make? http://www.scribd.com/doc/63933086/appellees-brief112164
    • To swear or not to swear ...
      The Judge's attorneys should take a look at section 2 of this brief: http://www.scribd.com/doc/64031269/Appellants-briefandcourtbelowdecision-112164 Her argument about no need to swear has been advanced rigorously by the State of Indiana.

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    1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

    2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

    3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

    4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

    5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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