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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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  • Sad but true
    Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?
  • Judge Brown punishes gabacho speech under RPC.
    in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?
    • 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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            1. 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!!!

            2. 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.

            3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

            4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

            5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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