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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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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