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Remove Judge Kimberly Brown, special masters recommend

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Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown should be removed from the bench, a panel of three special masters has recommended to the Indiana Supreme Court.

The panel that heard the weeklong disciplinary case against Brown filed 107 pages of findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommended sanctioons Friday. The Supreme Court will determine what discipline Brown should receive in what is believed to be the most extensive case against a judge in the history of the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission.

The commission proved more than 80 rules violations by clear and convincing evidence on 46 of 47 counts against Brown, the panel concluded. She was cleared on Count 22, in which she was accused of interrupting a public defender and treating him in an impatient and discourteous manner as he attempted to make a legal argument.

Brown also may have violated the law for terminating a former bailiff in her court who was among those who complained to the JQC, the panel concluded.

The special masters – retired Monroe Circuit Judge Viola Taliaferro, Boone Superior Judge Rebecca S. McClure and Lake Superior Judge Sheila M. Moss – made 281 particular findings in Brown’s case, along with conclusions that she violated numerous rules of judicial conduct.

Allegations against Brown include 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.

Along with the catalog of rules violations the panel found, it also noted in its general conclusions Brown’s refusal to be sworn during videotaped depositions before the commission. Refusing to be sworn “can only be viewed as signifying a lack of respect for the judicial process,” the masters concluded. Brown also refused to turn over evidence the commission sought.

“Further, the Court noted that certain forms of uncooperative conduct and delay tactics cross the line between legitimate discovery dispute and are the sort of conduct which is ‘not only antithetical’ to a judicial officer’s obligations as an attorney and judge but also ‘calls into question the integrity of the judicial disciplinary process,’” the masters’ filing says.

The masters determined Brown violated the following rules of judicial conduct, along with the number of violations:

Rule 1.2: Acting in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Thirty-six violations.

Rule 2.5(A): Performing judicial duties competently, diligently and promptly. Thirty violations.

Rule 2.12(A): Duties of judicial office take precedence over a judge’s personal and extrajudicial activities. Eight violations.

Rule 2.8(B): Judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, court staff, court officials and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity and shall require similar conduct. Eight violations.

Rule 1.1: A judge shall comply with the law, including the Code of Judicial Conduct. One violation.

Rule 2.6(A): Allowing anyone with a legal interest in a proceeding, or that person’s lawyer, the right to be heard according to law. One violation.

While the masters’ report was filed with the court Dec. 27, it was signed by Taliaferro on Dec. 22. On Dec. 11, new counsel appeared for Brown and filed a brief in which the judge apologized and proposed a 60-day suspension. The brief included an affidavit in Brown’s support from retired Justice Frank Sullivan.

The JQC asked that the masters strike the filing as untimely and outside the record. As of Monday, the docket for the case showed no ruling had been made on that motion, but the masters did not list Brown’s Dec. 11 filing in the chronology of disciplinary proceedings.
 

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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