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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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  4. Oh, and you fail to mention that you deprived the father of far FAR more time than he ever did you, even requiring officers to escort the children back into his care. Please, can you see that you had a huge part in "starting the war?" Patricia, i can't understand how painfully heartbreak ithis ordeal must have been for you. I read the appellate case and was surprised to see both sides of the story because your actions were harmful to your child; more so than the fathers. The evidence wasn't re weighed. It was properly reviewed for abuse of discretion as the trial court didn't consider whether a change of circumstance occurred or follow and define the statutes that led to their decision. Allowing a child to call a boyfriend "daddy" and the father by his first name is unacceptable. The first time custody was reversed to father was for very good reason. Self reflection in how you ultimately lost primary custody is the only way you will be able heal and move forward. Forgiveness of yourself comes after recognition and I truly hope you can get past the hurt and pain to allow your child the stability and care you recognized yourself that the father provides.

  5. Patricia, i can't understand how painfully heartbreak ithis ordeal must have been for you. I read the appellate case and was surprised to see both sides of the story because your actions were harmful to your child; more so than the fathers. The evidence wasn't re weighed. It was properly reviewed for abuse of discretion as the trial court didn't consider whether a change of circumstance occurred or follow and define the statutes that led to their decision. Allowing a child to call a boyfriend "daddy" and the father by his first name is unacceptable. The first time custody was reversed to father was for very good reason. Self reflection in how you ultimately lost primary custody is the only way you will be able heal and move forward. Forgiveness of yourself comes after recognition and I truly hope you can get past the hurt and pain to allow your child the stability and care you recognized yourself that the father provides.

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