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Marion Superior judge faces 45 judicial misconduct counts

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Marion Superior criminal court Judge Kimberly Brown faces possible suspension and discipline from the Judicial Qualifications Commission on 45 counts of misconduct.

According to a verified petition for suspension, Brown faces an array of accusations, including counts that her actions led to the delayed release of at least nine defendants and that she created “a hostile environment for attorneys, court staff, clerks, and other court officials.”

In one count, Brown is accused of failing to make a minute entry after releasing a man charged with a Class C misdemeanor on his own recognizance. The man spent 22 days in the Marion County Jail. Another defendant spent 16 days in jail on a Class C misdemeanor because the judge failed to meet her administrative duties, the charges allege. Others spent one to nine days in jail when they shouldn’t have, according to the JQC.

The statement of charges against Brown also asserts that between 2009 and January 2013, when Brown was elected to serve as judge either in Criminal Division 16 or 7, she failed to properly complete necessary paperwork and failed to properly train and supervise staff and court officers. She also is accused of improperly converting jury trials to bench trials and causing multiple needless delays.

Several of the counts against Brown allege she treated defense and prosecuting attorneys and clerks and court officers in a rude and discourteous manner. She “routinely displayed inappropriate demeanor toward Court 16 court staff and maintained a hostile environment by making derogatory and inappropriate comments about other court staff, court officials, and attorneys in front of staff members and by engaging in other hostile behaviors.”

Brown is accused of failing to timely act on motions before her in multiple instances, and when lawyers called her office daily and court staff approached her about it, she “sometimes responded to the effect of, ‘This isn’t a McDonald’s, you can’t get what you want when you want it’ or ‘I refuse to be held captive,’” according to the complaint.

The complaint says Brown held public defenders to a different standard than private attorneys. Court staff allege that she frequently told them she “hated” certain defenders and referred to them as “stupid.”

In one instance, Brown is accused of snapping at a public defender who corrected the judge that the client’s next court date was a jury trial rather than a bench trial. Brown is alleged to have said, “You’re very close to contempt. … I suggest that you stop. You are disrupting this court’s procedures.”

Brown also is accused of treating court staff badly, making unflattering comments about their weight, and in one case banning a deputy clerk from her courtroom. Her court had the highest turnover rate of any Marion Superior court, with 14 different employees from 2009-2012. She later hired bailiffs and a court reporter with no court experience, the complaint alleges.

The judge also is accused of firing her former chief bailiff, Tamara Harrell, in Aug. 2012 because she “believed that Harrell had provided information to, or was going to file a complaint with, the Judicial Qualifications Commission.”

Much of the complaint centers around failings to properly stay on top of paperwork, some of which could be attributed to conflicts with clerks. “The inability to locate files in Court 16 became so pronounced that the clerk’s office for a time maintained a log of all files the deputy clerk transferred to the judge,” according to the notice of proceedings, which may be viewed in separate files here.

According to the Indiana Supreme Court online docket, no date had been set as of Monday afternoon for proceedings before the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

Brown is represented by Indianapolis attorney Aaron Haith of Choate & Haith. A firm representative said Monday there would be no immediate comment.

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  • Yet if an attorney had criticized this judge ...
    that attorney could have been disbarred. Olympus, thou art only human.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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