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Opponent's claims against judge regarding killer result in disciplinary charges

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The woman challenging Franklin Circuit Judge Steven Cox for his job faces seven disciplinary charges over statements attributed to her about the judge’s release of a prisoner who a year later killed five people, according to a statement Friday from the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission. The commission has asked for a public hearing on the charges.

Tammy R. Davis of Brookville is accused of making statements she knew were inaccurate about Cox’s modification of a sentence that resulted in the release of David Ison to probation in July 2010. Ison in March was sentenced to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty to the murders of Roy Napier and his estranged wife, Angela Napier; their children, Jacob and Melissa Napier; and Henry Smith in the small town of Laurel.

The killings took place in September 2011. Davis is accused of insisting that Ison’s earliest release date was March 2011. “Although Ison’s release date should have been listed as September 21, 2010, Department of Correction records inaccurately reflected that Ison’s new out date was March 23, 2011,” according to the charges.

“Davis left voters with the mistaken impression that Ison still would have been in jail in February and/or September 2011 and could not have committed certain crimes,” according to one of the charges against her.

The commission provided DOC records to Davis but said in announcing the charges that she “failed to correct the misleading statements made by or attributed to her that gave the inaccurate impression to the public that the defendant would have been in prison and would not have been able to commit certain crimes, including murder, had Judge Cox not modified the sentence.”

Davis also is accused of alleging that Cox modified Ison’s sentence because the two were boyhood friends, a charge the JQC said is unsupported by evidence.

The JQC said Davis’ statements regarding Ison appeared in local newspapers, in her campaign literature and on her campaign website. According to the JQC, the charges are:

  • Counts 1 and 3: Davis failed to correct inaccurate statements attributed to her in newspaper articles, an alleged violation of Rule 4.2(A)(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, requiring that candidates act at all times in a manner consistent with the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary;
  • Count 2: Davis made, with reckless disregard for the truth, inaccurate statements on her campaign website and in political ads in violation of Rule 4.1(A)(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires judicial candidates to not knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, make any misleading statement;
  • Count 4: Davis’ statement on her campaign website that intended to give the impression to voters that her opponent was granting favors to a defendant based on some improper relationship was a violation of Rule 4.2(A)(1);
  • Count 5: Davis’ quote in an August political advertisement gave the improper impression that her opponent could not be trusted with the community’s safety and was a violation of Rule 4.2(A)(1); and
  • Counts 6 and 7: Davis authorized statements such as “Franklin County deserves an honest judge who will do the right thing” in campaign ads and claimed that Cox should not have filed an ethical complaint with the commission in violation of Rule 4.2(A)(1).


The JQC asked the Supreme Court for a public hearing on the charges. Davis has 20 days to answer the charges, after which the Indiana Supreme Court will appoint three judges as special masters to conduct a public hearing, according to the JQC’s statement.
 
The Supreme Court has final authority over judicial discipline and can dismiss the charges or impose sanctions ranging from a reprimand to a permanent ban on holding a judicial office in Indiana.

Davis’s website, www.tammydavisforjudge.com, contains a section on Ison that includes DOC records and Cox’s order that modified Ison’s sentence after a divorce hearing at which Cox later said Ison and his wife had reconciled. Midday Friday, the Ison section of Davis’ site concluded, “the bottom line remains: without Steve Cox, David Ison would have been back in prison after his divorce hearing on July 15th, 2010.”

Davis was admitted to the Indiana bar in May 2006 and has no concluded disciplinary history, according to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys.

 

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  • dubious exercise amid an election
    With all this talk about democracy and so forth, its interesting that the bar involves itself in policiing political speech amidst an election. I think that does not reflect well on lawyers. Americans have to pay big money for foreign wars and domestic elections and they should get the benefit of all this lip service to democracy without this kind of apparent interferce in the political process. There is a danger here that voters will be unduly swayed by this commission inquiry and that it may be seen as the establishment protecting turf.

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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