Blackford judge suspended for barring ex-clerk from courthouse

A Blackford County judge has been suspended without pay for six days for barring a county’s clerk from entering the courthouse in Hartford City.

The Indiana Supreme Court issued the suspension Wednesday for Blackford Circuit Court Judge Dean Young after a judicial panel recommended the punishment last month.

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications alleged that Young violated the Code of Judicial Conduct when he barred Blackford County’s then-clerk, Derinda Shady, from entering the courthouse for six days in August 2015. The commission filed judicial misconduct charges against Young last year.

The commission alleged Young barred Shady from the courthouse in Hartford City while she was hospitalized and after she refused to attend a meeting with Young and Superior Court Judge John N. Barry without a witness. The JQC previously publicly admonished Barry for the incident.

Young “engaged in judicial misconduct relating to a temporary restraining order that he heard and issued without adequate notice to the responding party or witnesses, and while he had a specific interest in the subject matter,” according to the Supreme Court’s order in In the Matter of the Honorable Dean A. Young, Judge of the Blackford Circuit Court, 05S00-1706-JD-430.

The decision to suspend Young without pay for six days, as recommended by the commission, was approved by all justices except for Christopher Goff, who did not participate. Young also will be assessed the costs of the commission’s proceedings.

Young and Barry had clashed with Shady over her reaction to a plan to eliminate two positions on her staff. After Shady was involved in a heated meeting with the county council in which she appealed to keep those positions, Young held a hearing without notice to Shady, who did not attend. He declared an “emergency,” found that Shady was “unfit to assume her duties,” and issued a restraining order barring her from the courthouse, the justices found. Shady had left the courthouse that morning and subsequently was hospitalized for a panic attack, according to the record. The restraining order was vacated six days later.

The justices found as aggravating factors that the misconduct happened in Young’s judicial capacity; that he lacked insight into the wrongfulness of his actions; that the restraining order caused Shady public humiliation; and that he placed her deputies in fear of sanctions, among others. They credited as mitigators Young’s long career in the law and public service; a reputation for honesty and cooperation; and that he “mitigated the harm” of his conduct and changed course after the JQC called; and that he “was confronted by a difficult situation created by the Clerk’s behavior.”

Young’s suspension starts Monday. The former Republican state lawmaker is in the final year of his second term on the court. He isn’t seeking re-election.

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