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Town court judge admonished for traffic case involvement

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A northeastern Indiana town court judge was given a public admonishment Monday by the Commission on Judicial Qualifications for her direct individual involvement with parties involved in a 2008 traffic infraction case.

Fremont Town Court Judge Martha C. Hagerty improperly engaged in multiple ex parte conversations and assumed the role of prosecutor when she tried to negotiate a resolution to a defendant’s case, the commission determined.

The case involves a defendant whose license was suspended after receiving a ticket. The defendant called Fremont Town Court in Steuben County, and Hagerty said the license would be reinstated if the defendant paid the ticket and an additional fine. Hagerty also took part in ex parte communications with the prosecutor in the case, according to the admonition.

Hagerty didn’t set a hearing after she received notice that the defendant wished to contest the ticket, according to the admonition. More than two years later, the defendant filed a motion for discovery that the judge denied. She granted the prosecutor’s motion to dismiss the charges in January.

Hagerty, who is not an attorney, acknowledges she violated Rule 1.2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires judges to promote confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, and Rule 2.2, which requires judges to perform duties fairly and impartially. She also acknowledges violation of Rule 2.9(A) forbidding ex parte communications except in emergencies.  

The commission determined that formal disciplinary charges are warranted against her. However, Supreme Court rules allow for the judicial officer and the commission to agree to a public admonition instead of filing charges.

“Had Judge Hagerty not been so responsive to the commission’s concerns and taken immediate corrective action, the commission would have been inclined to pursue a stronger course of action,” the admonition says.
 

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  1. File under the Sociology of Hoosier Discipline ... “We will be answering the complaint in due course and defending against the commission’s allegations,” said Indianapolis attorney Don Lundberg, who’s representing Hudson in her disciplinary case. FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW ... Lundberg ran the statist attorney disciplinary machinery in Indy for decades, and is now the "go to guy" for those who can afford him .... the ultimate insider for the well-to-do and/or connected who find themselves in the crosshairs. It would appear that this former prosecutor knows how the game is played in Circle City ... and is sacrificing accordingly. See more on that here ... http://www.theindianalawyer.com/supreme-court-reprimands-attorney-for-falsifying-hours-worked/PARAMS/article/43757 Legal sociologists could have a field day here ... I wonder why such things are never studied? Is a sacrifice to the well connected former regulators a de facto bribe? Such questions, if probed, could bring about a more just world, a more equal playing field, less Stalinist governance. All of the things that our preambles tell us to value could be advanced if only sunshine reached into such dark worlds. As a great jurist once wrote: "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." Other People's Money—and How Bankers Use It (1914). Ah, but I am certifiable, according to the Indiana authorities, according to the ISC it can be read, for believing such trite things and for advancing such unwanted thoughts. As a great albeit fictional and broken resistance leaders once wrote: "I am the dead." Winston Smith Let us all be dead to the idea of maintaining a patently unjust legal order.

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