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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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