A Blackford County judge has been charged with judicial misconduct related to his banning the court clerk from the county courthouse and threatening to arrest and possibly incarcerate her if she even stepped on the sidewalks surrounding the property.
The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications filed an 11-page Notice of the Institution of Formal Proceedings and Statement of Charges Wednesday against Blackford Circuit Judge Dean A. Young with the Indiana Supreme Court. Young has 20 days to file an answer to the charges.
Also, the JQC publicly admonished Blackford Superior Judge John N. Barry for violating the Code of Judicial Conduct and basic due process requirements for emergency orders. However, the commission decided not to file any disciplinary charges because Barry cooperated with the inquiry, accepted responsibility for his conduct and has no prior disciplinary history.
Young has been on the bench since 2007 and gained some national notoriety in August 2014. Angry about an attorney’s style of dress, he issued an order, forcing the lawyer to wear socks in his courtroom.
The current disciplinary action arises from a hearing Aug. 20, 2015, in which Young and Barry are charged with not providing proper notice, not advising the participants of the right to counsel or giving them the opportunity to consult with an attorney. At that hearing, the judges issued a temporary restraining order against Blackford Court Clerk Derinda Shady, preventing her from entering the courthouse or even “the four sidewalks that border the property.”
Although Barry was at the hearing and made comments that the reason Shady was being banned from the courthouse was because of concerns over her behavior and the possible risk she posed to the court’s records, Young conducted the proceedings.
The hearing centered on a dispute with Shady that stemmed from Young and Barry’s decision to transfer all the open criminal files from the clerk’s office to their court offices. The judges took the records after the Blackford County Council, citing budget constraints, moved to cut two positions from the clerk’s office.
When Shady learned of the judges’ decision, she made a profanity-laced phone call to Barry. She later apologized and agreed to cooperate with the transfer of open files. The documents were placed in the judges’ offices Aug. 11, 2015.
On Aug. 20, Young ordered a sheriff’s deputy to bring Shady and two of her deputy clerks to his court for a hearing. Shady was not able to attend because she had left work with chest pains and would eventually go to the emergency room.
Young opened the hearing by declaring that an emergency exists and that Shady would be enjoined from the courthouse grounds and her office because of her conduct over the previous three weeks. He told the deputy clerks that if they did not comply with his order, they would also be prevented from entering the courthouse and the surrounding grounds.
According to the JQC, Young did not give the deputy clerks prior notice of the hearing or the chance to respond.
Young also mentioned the phone conversation between Barry and Shady and stated, “I can assure (Clerk Shady), if she were here today, that had she said that to me that she would be here in hunter orange this morning, in chains, where she would stay and enjoy her Thanksgiving dinner, probably her Christmas dinner as well.”
Young then declared Shady unfit to serve in the county clerk and barred her from the courthouse. The JQC stated Young had no evidence that would have indicated Shady intended to destroy the court records or was a threat to the security of those documents. Also, he did not establish that she had been uncooperative in the transfer of the files.
In addition, the JQC noted the deputy clerks felt demeaned, intimidated and were afraid they would be banned from the courthouse if they contradicted Young’s statements.
Young and Barry issued a written Joint Temporary Restraining Order and Emergency Order against Shady. If she stepped onto courthouse grounds, she would face “immediate arrest, fine, and/or incarceration pending further hearing.”
On Aug. 25, Shady’s attorney reached an agreement with Young and Berry and the temporary restraining order was vacated.
The charges against Young are for the following violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct:
• Count 1 – violation of Rules 1.1, 1.2, 2.2 and 2.6 for enjoining the elected county clerk from the courthouse after conducting hearing at which she was not present nor had been adequately notified or provided the opportunity to seek counsel.
• Count 2 – violation of Rules 1.2 and 2.8(B) for his conduct prior to the Aug. 20 hearing and his statements during hearing which did not reflect patience, dignity or courtesy and did not promote public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.
• Count 3 – violation of Rules 1.1, 1.2 and 2.2 for commanding the deputy clerks to appear for a hearing without providing them with prior written notice of the purpose of the hearing.
• Count 4 – violation of Rules 1.1, 1.2, 2.2 and 2.11 for presiding as a judicial officer in the temporary restraining order proceedings against Shady when he had a specific interest which would lead a reasonable person to question his impartiality in the matter.
Barry was found to have violated the following rules in the Code of Judicial Conduct:
• Rule 2.9(A) which prohibits ex parte proceedings unless otherwise authorized by law.
• Rules 1.1, 1.2 and 2.6 which require judges to uphold and apply the law; to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity, independence and impartiality of the judiciary; and to give every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding the right to be heard.