Ex-Center Township judge agrees to ban from bench

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A former Marion County Small Claims Court judge has agreed to a lifetime ban from holding judicial office after allegations that she used her position to profit from a wedding business.

Judge Michelle Smith Scott submitted her resignation as Center Township judge Sept. 11, effective Oct. 3, after WRTV-6 reported Scott and her husband, Rich Scott, used court staff and resources to promote their wedding officiating business.

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications Friday released an agreement for resolution of investigation signed last month. “In exchange for Judge Scott’s affirmation that she will not seek nor accept judicial office in the future, the Commission agrees to conclude its investigation of the matter,” the agreement says.

The commission apprised Scott of its investigation Sept. 16. The complaint alleged she violated local court rules and the Code of Judicial Conduct by improperly imposing and depositing fees for weddings conducted during office hours, and for improperly reporting those weddings.

Scott also was accused of rules violations for failing to act in a manner that promotes confidence in the integrity, independence, and impartiality of the judiciary; abusing the prestige of judicial office to advance personal interest; allowing staff and court employees to refer couples seeking to get married to the Scotts’ wedding business; and engaging in activities in a manner inconsistent with her ethical obligations.

After Scott resigned, Brenda Roper was appointed as Center Township Small Claims judge. Roper defeated Scott in this year’s Democratic primary and otherwise would have taken office effective Jan. 1, 2015.

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