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Suspended judge faces disciplinary charges

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The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has filed charges against the suspended LaPorte Superior judge who was shot in the head just before taking the bench this year.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission has charged Judge Jennifer Evans Koethe with three counts: violating Canon 2A of the 2008 Judicial Code of Conduct and Rule 1.2 of the 2009 Judicial Code of Conduct for withholding or misrepresenting pertinent information during taped statements with officials; violating Canons 1 and 2A of the 2008 code for asking a police officer destroy a handwritten note that was potential evidence in an official investigation; and violating Rules 8.4(b), (c), and (d) of the Rules of Professional Conduct by asking the officer to destroy the note.

Judge Koethe was the elected judge for Superior 3 when she was grazed in the head by a bullet from her 9mm handgun in late December 2008. At first, the judge said she accidentally shot herself and didn't know where the gun was. She later told a detective at the hospital that she put the gun to her head to scare her husband into thinking was going to kill herself, but she didn't know the gun was loaded when she fired it. She also told the detective she wrote a note to her husband on the back of a store box and asked him to get rid of it.

Judge Koethe deliberately omitted from her Dec. 23 statement that she went into the bedroom and wrote her husband a personal note before getting the gun. In her Jan. 9 statement, she contradicted statements from her Dec. 23 statement, including she thought the gun was unloaded because she removed the bullets from it, denying she put the gun up to her head, and instead said it accidentally went off when she picked the gun up off the bed. She then denied knowing about the location of the gun or the note.

Her husband, Stephan, admitted he hid the gun and the note when his wife was in the room.

The judge was indicted for attempted obstruction of justice as a Class D felony in May and has been suspended with pay since May 11, earning nearly $74,000 while off the bench. Her trial is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2010, before Special Judge Thomas Stefaniak of Lake Superior Court. According to Supreme Court spokesperson Kathryn Dolan, Judge Koethe is the first judge charged with a felony in Indiana since the 1980s.

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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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