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Senior judge faces discipline case for OWI, alleged cover-up bid

July 15, 2016

Indiana Court of Appeals Senior Judge William Garrard faces judicial discipline proceedings after driving drunk in Mooresville last November, colliding with a car and later allegedly asking a policeman at the hospital to forget about it.

The Indiana Supreme Court on Friday filed a notice of judicial discipline proceedings against Garrard, claiming his conduct in driving drunk violated Rules 1.1 and 1.2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The rules, respectively, require judges to respect and comply with the law and avoid impropriety; and act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary. His alleged attempt to evade responsibility is a separate count, also alleging a violation of Rule 1.2.

Garrard, 83, pleaded guilty last month to OWI endangering a person, a Class A misdemeanor, after crashing his Ford Edge into another vehicle that sat waiting for traffic to clear at the intersection of Monroe and High streets in the Morgan County community. Garrard made a wide turn and his car struck the waiting vehicle.

Police spoke with the other driver, according to the discipline charges, while Garrard “was outside the vehicle at the time with his insurance card in his hand,” when the officer asked for his license and registration.

“As [Garrard] was returning to the Ford Edge, the officer observed [him] stagger and almost lose his balance” when he opened the car door. Police smelled alcohol on him and said his speech was slurred and his eyes bloodshot and watery. Garrard told officers he’d had one vodka drink two hours prior, but he blew a 0.14 percent blood alcohol level on a preliminary breath test, nearly twice the legal limit for drunken driving.

Garrard was taken to a hospital for a blood draw. “On the ride to the hospital and while at the hospital, [he] voiced concern to the officer that [he] would probably lose his job. … At the hospital emergency room, after the blood draw was completed, [Garrard] asked the police officer, ‘Will you just take me home and forget about the drinking and driving,’” the discipline charges allege.

A special judge in Morgan County accepted Garrard’s guilty plea June 14. He was sentenced to 365 days in jail, with 309 days suspended and given 28 days of jail credit time, though he spent just a few hours in the county jail the night of his arrest, a jail officer said. Garrard was placed on probation for nine months with his driving privileges suspended 90 days and ordered to pay $384.50 in fines and court costs.

The notice issued Friday requests the court appoint a panel of three special masters to conduct a hearing on the alleged misconduct and impose appropriate sanctions. The last Indiana judge to face a Judicial Qualifications Commission hearing before special masters was former Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown, who was removed from the bench in March 2014 for a number of ethical violations in administering her court.
 
Garrard’s attorney in his discipline case, Kevin McGoff of Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP, said he could not comment at the present time on the discipline charges. Garrard has 20 days to answer the complaint. Possible sanctions range from a reprimand or suspension to a permanent ban on holding judicial office in Indiana.

Garrard was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1974 and retired in 2000, when he assumed senior status. He was admitted to practice in 1959.

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