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Town court judge publicly admonished

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The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications issued a public admonition of the Walkerton Town Court judge today for employing his wife as court clerk for more than 10 years and for participating in an ex parte conversation with a defendant about her traffic infractions.

Judge Roger L. Huizenga was admonished for violating Canon 3C(4) and Rule 2.12 - which replaced Canon 3C(4) effective Jan. 1, 2009 - when he hired his wife as court clerk for the town court in St. Joseph County. His wife was court clerk from November 1995 until March 13, 2009, when she resigned after the initiation of the commission's investigation.

In 1998, the ICJQ issued an advisory opinion setting out guidelines and restrictions for judges on the hiring of friends or relatives and stated judges were advised to contact the commission to discuss potential employment. The opinion also stated the employment or appointment of a spouse will likely never be appropriate. Judge Huizenga didn't contact the commission to discuss employing his wife as court clerk.

The judge admitted violating Cannons 1, 2 and 3B(8) as a result of his participating in an ex parte conversation with a woman on the state of her traffic violations and for his assumption of the role of prosecutor when he negotiated a resolution to the defendant's case. He told her she would have to pay her speeding ticket but her ticket for the expired license plate would be dismissed if she renewed her plate within 30 days. No deputy prosecutor was present for the conversation between Judge Huizenga and the defendant.

The admonition concludes the commission's investigation and the judge won't be formally charged with ethical misconduct.

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