Special masters named in judge's disciplinary case

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The Indiana Supreme Court has appointed three trial judges as special masters to preside over the disciplinary case of one of their city court colleagues from Lake County, who is accused of operating an illegal traffic school, dismissing cases without assessing required fees, and dissuading one litigant from contesting a seatbelt violation in court.

An order dated Monday names Vigo Circuit/Superior Judge David Bolk, Clark Superior Judge Vicki Carmichael, and Hamilton Circuit Judge Paul Felix to consider the case against Hammond City Judge Jeffrey A. Harkin.

The Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission accuses Judge Harkin of violating three professional conduct rules: two charges involve his operation of a long-established traffic school deferral program and not collecting fees between 2005 and 2010, while a third charge involves an August 2010 seatbelt violation case where a defendant alleged the judge made inappropriate comments to him and dissuaded him from contesting the ticket in court.

Through his attorney David Weigle in Hammond, Judge Harkin filed an answer Aug. 12 denying the allegations and contending that he did nothing wrong. The judge’s answer says he cannot recall the litigant’s specific demeanor at the time and can’t speak to what the man might have “felt” about the judge’s attitude, but he remembers giving the man a chance to make his defense in court.

As to the traffic school allegations, Judge Harkin said he believes that he acted appropriately given his judicial authority to dismiss a case using the program, and that although it may not be specifically listed in state statute, nothing specifically prohibits judges from using these types of deferral programs. The traffic school has existed for decades and prior judges and prosecutors have known about and used it in the same way over time without anyone raising concern, according to the answer.

The three special masters have until mid-October to submit a schedule for the disciplinary proceedings, with a final report completed by Jan. 25, 2012. The state’s justices have final authority on any agreement or disciplinary decision, and if any misconduct is found they’d be responsible for any sanctions deemed necessary.


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues