Judge twice investigated for gun encounters with ex admonished

A southern Indiana judge who is accused of twice introducing guns into heated encounters with his estranged wife, leading to police intervention, has been publicly admonished by the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission.

Decatur Circuit Judge Timothy Day consented to the admonishment issued Friday in lieu of formal disciplinary proceedings. He will face no formal charges of ethical misconduct, according to the public admonition that details the incidents that prompted criminal and disciplinary investigations.

In Oct. 1, 2014, Day and his estranged wife, S.D., lived apart but continued to have regular contact and discuss possible reconciliation. When he saw her car parked in at the apartment of a man he suspected she was romantically involved with, Day texted her that he was ready to end their marriage. S.D. denied she was in a relationship with the man, and told Day he could have stopped to meet him.

Day later came to the apartment to see if he could be introduced, bringing with him a loaded shotgun in the front seat of his pickup truck. S.D. then called an Indiana State Police trooper she knew who arrived and saw S.D. and Day “in what the Trooper perceived as a heated conversation.” The trooper removed the shotgun, unloaded it, and put it in his cruiser. When he asked Day what his intent was in being at the apartment, the trooper “noticed that Judge Day was in a highly agitated state.”

Day told the commission he always carried the shotgun in his truck and had moved it from the back to the front seat to place it in plain view when he saw the trooper approaching. However, the trooper said as he approached, he closely watched Day because he knew he was armed, but he saw no such movement.

After S.D. told the trooper Day was “very jealous and controlling of her,” she “later refused to speak to law enforcement but retracted her prior statements when she spoke to the special prosecutor and the Commission. A special prosecutor decided not to file any criminal charges,” the admonition says.

A second incident took place two years ago today, on Dec. 29, 2015, after the judge and S.D. had filed for divorce but before the dissolution was finalized. The two again discussed possible reconciliation at Day’s home, but when S.D. saw texts from a woman Day had been dating, she grabbed the phone and threw it in the driveway.

The couple’s then-16-year-old daughter, R.D., heard a commotion and returned the phone to Day. The judge grabbed a rifle in his bedroom by the barrel, after which S.D. grabbed the other end, leading to a tug-of-war. The daughter grabbed the rifle in the middle, after which her parents released their grips on the weapon, which the daughter removed from the room.

Day told the commission he picked up the gun to move it into a closet, and he said the tug-of-war ensued because he was afraid S.D. would take the gun from his home. Local police turned the matter over to Indiana State Police again, but a special prosecutor again declined to bring charges.

“The Commission believes that, considering the totality of circumstances of these two incidents, which occurred less than fourteen months apart, Judge Day made several missteps which escalated the conduct and led to more police involvement. By engaging in this conduct, the judge violated his ethical duty to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary and to avoid the appearance of impropriety, as required by Rule 1.2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct,” the admonition says.

“This Admonition concludes the Commission’s investigation, and Judge Day will not formally be charged with ethical misconduct.”

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