Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he will take no further action toward possibly appointing an interim attorney general after the Indiana Supreme Court on Monday denied his request for clarification on whether AG Curtis Hill’s ongoing suspension means he has “vacated” his elected position.
“With the Supreme Court’s decision to suspend the Attorney General for 30 days, my judicial inquiry was to one, determine if that suspension created a vacancy and, two, if so, what was my constitutional and statutory responsibility to fill that vacancy,” Holcomb said in a statement Monday after his motion to intervene was denied in In the Matter of Curtis T. Hill, Jr., 19S-DI-156. “With those two questions left unanswered, there is no further action on my part.”
Hill is in his second day of a 30-day suspension for violations of Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) and (d) related to allegations that he drunkenly groped four women in March 2018. He will be automatically reinstated June 17, and in the interim he has appointed his chief deputy, Aaron Negangard, to oversee the legal operations of the Office of the Attorney General.
Holcomb had asked the Supreme Court for permission to intervene in Hill’s discipline case to seek clarity on whether the suspension meant Hill was no longer “duly licensed to practice law,” a statutory requirement for holding the elected position of attorney general.
If Hill was not duly licensed, the governor wanted to know whether a “vacancy” was created that he had to fill.
The justices, however, agreed with Hill’s argument that intervention is not appropriate in a discipline case.
The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission did not oppose the governor’s motion, but it also did not opine on the process for filling vacancies. However, the commission did imply that Hill could be disqualified from performing any duties of his elected position during his suspension, not just those directly related to the practice of law.
Meanwhile, Hill is pushing forward with his reelection campaign, urging Indiana GOP delegates to give him their support at the party’s convention next month. He’s facing challenges from Indianapolis attorney John Westercamp and Decatur County Prosecutor Nate Harter, while former Indiana Congressman Todd Rokita has said he is considering throwing his hat into the ring.
“These new candidates don’t care about your voice,” Hill wrote in a letter to the delegates after the suspension was handed down. “They only care about themselves and taking another step up the ladder.”