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Judge Kimberly Brown removed from bench by justices

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The Indiana Supreme Court removed Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown from the bench Tuesday after finding she “engaged in significant judicial misconduct.” The judge had been on paid suspension since Jan. 9 pending final discipline.

A panel of special masters found that the Judicial Qualifications Commission proved more than 80 rule violations by Brown on 46 of 47 charges. She was accused of wrongful detention of at least nine criminal defendants, 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.

“We conclude that the Commission has determined, by clear and convincing evidence, that (Brown) engaged in significant judicial misconduct, and we conclude that the misconduct warrants her removal from office,” the majority held in a per curiam opinion.

“We conclude that protecting the integrity of the judicial system and ensuring the fair and timely administration of justice require that (Brown) be removed from office … effective immediately,” justices ordered.

Justice Robert Rucker concurred in part, agreeing that Brown should be removed, but not immediately. She should be given a chance as another judge had in a prior extensive disciplinary case.

The 22-page opinion found that during Brown’s tenure in Marion Superior Criminal Division 7, 10 defendants were not promptly released when they should have been, the longest improper detention lasting 22 days.

The opinion cites Brown’s alleged expletive-filled tirades aimed at public defenders, her purported favoring of some court staff over others, and retaliation against those who she perceived as cooperating with investigations of her court.

Brown had argued for a 60-day suspension based on prior judicial discipline cases, including Matter of Hawkins, 902 N.E.2d 231, 244 (Ind. 2009), Matter of Boles, 555 N.E.2d 1284, 1289 (Ind. 1990), and Matter of Danikolas, 838 N.E.2d 422, 430 (Ind. 2005).

Justices found though, that “misconduct in this case was more widespread and egregious than the misconduct at issue” in the cases Brown cited.

“Her post-hearing Submission, agreeing that she engaged in most of the misconduct alleged by the Commission and apologizing for it, is entitled to little mitigating weight in light of its timing. The Submission was made after failing to cooperate fully with the Commission’s investigation and putting the Commission to its burden of proof at a lengthy hearing. It is hard to assign much weight to an expression of remorse under these circumstances,” the majority held.

The order does not bar Brown from practicing law, but does render her ineligible for judicial office. Brown had recently filed to seek re-election.  

Rucker said Brown’s case more closely aligned with Matter of Kouros, 816 N.E.2d 21, 22 (Ind. 2004). “It is Kouros with its similarities to the facts before us that compels me to conclude (Brown) should not be immediately removed from office; but rather should be afforded the opportunity to demonstrate that she has the capacity to manage her court.”

Rucker noted Lake Superior Judge Joan Kouros was given that opportunity and it was only after a period of reporting and state court oversight that it was determined Kouros lacked the capacity to administer the court.

Rucker proposed a 60-day suspension without pay followed by removal from office stayed for one year of supervised probation by the Division of State Court Administration. He argued Kouros “presented far more egregious facts than those that exist here.”
 

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  • nicht mehr
    Hey john, not putting any syllables on.your golden tongue! Just noting your former silence. As for convicted attorneys, they have the duty to self report and all other attorneys have duty to rat them out. No excuse for convictions not resulting in discipline in some cases, when fatal to license in other cases. Arbitrary? As for you, sir, you have come very close to pronouncing the emperor naked. Hopefully not too close. Your mask in this forum is likely stopping none from among the overlords as to knowing your allegedly secret identity. This is, after all, the Hoosier state. As in whose yer big brother?
  • huh?
    Anon, don't put words in my mouth. I didn't say that. A judge that has the power to incarcerate people without due process as a matter of neglect is a threat to liberty just like a judge who incarcerates people without due process intentionally. In this situation there seems to be the suggestion that she is being persecuted. Ask some of the people she locked up if they feel persecuted. Anyways, I have already commented on Paul Ogden's situation and I find it most regrettable choices by the DC and I feel like Ogden did not violate rules and the whole thing should have been initiated in the first place. This Hicks fellow, I don't know about him,. He is not the only person that has been convicted who remains unaffected in his license. I am not overly concerned about him. I feel that it is likely the DC is struggling with a difficult situation in terms of rounding up all these convictions of lawyers hither and yon. The judges are supposed to report them, from what I have heard, and but often they don't bother. So the DC has not been helped by local judges who don't cooperate. To be fair some judges may forget this or may not even be aware. Overall, I think a judge who does a bad job like this lady really should get pulled off the bench and be sanctioned as a lawyer and sanctioned hard. Her actions have a far more negative effect on the public perception of the availability of justice in our communities than does a few critical remarks which are true uttered by a few lawyers here and there. That's my private opinion, uttered publically under this nom de plume, and I'm sticking to it.
    • Dear John
      So no comment as to serial drunk driving, carrying unlicensed guns and brandishing the same, Mr Smith? Any concern that some caught having broke the law need only serve that criminal conviction with no public discipline, while others who break no law at all are subjected to show trials and public humiliation?
      • wawaweewah
        "The 22-page opinion found that during Brown’s tenure in Marion Superior Criminal Division 7, 10 defendants were not promptly released when they should have been, the longest improper detention lasting 22 days." ___SHE DETAINED PEOPLE WITHOUT DUE PROCESS FOR 22 DAYS !!!! wow that better fit under 8.4, and if it doesn't than what truly does? ____ "The opinion cites Brown’s alleged expletive-filled tirades aimed at public defenders" ______ she cussed other lawyers in court??? wow if a lawyer cussed a judge in court would that be grounds for discipline? this kind of stuff is incredible, certainly one would think her license ought to get chopped not just her judgeship. but like you said... "some animals are more equal than others..."
      • ooops
        And here the mainstream media notes the absence of bar discipline http://journalgazette.com/article/20130807/LOCAL03/308079965/1002/LOCAL
      • Hick still
        Hicks remains in good standing .... wonder when the Hoosier system will finish crucifying Paul Ogden?
        • And more sad commentary
          It is OK for an Indiana attorney to get drunk, carry unlicensed, and then pull his pistol on former clients .... ok as in no discipline to follow, at least in some instances ... the less-than-clear record certainly suggests http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20130308/LOCAL03/130309559/1002 Yep, some animals just more equal than others .... but what it the equalizer, Mr Smith?
        • Sad commentary
          Kim Brown was a judge. She remains an Indiana attorney in good standing. Yet she certainly violated Rule 8.4. Misconduct It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: (d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice; Some animals are just more equal than others, Mr Smith
          • Where were the supremes when Harry Sauce was Judge?
            Harry, I don't know if you are still out there, but this should have happened to you. You abused your authority more than any judge I know...Much to your dismay I still have my drivers licence and a clean driving record. You counted on me to be passive, you counted wrong.
          • Yeah!
            Now maybe I can go and get that extremely unfair judgement she rendered against me overturned. The crooks really got over in this case,and I am going to make it right.

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