Judge convicted after meth sting barred from bench, suspended

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A Hamilton County judge who purchased meth from an informant in a sting operation then bit the thumb of an officer who tried to stop the jurist from swallowing the evidence has been barred from holding judicial office but may continue to conditionally practice law after a 90-day suspension.

The Indiana Supreme Court passed judgment on former Hamilton County Magistrate Judge William P. Greenaway’s judicial discipline in an order posted late Friday. The order approved a statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline between Greenaway and the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

The court’s order permanently bans Greenaway from judicial service and suspends him from the practice of law for one year, beginning Jan. 15, 2021, with the first 90 days served and the balance “conditionally stayed subject to successful completion of at least two (2) years of probation. If, after 90 days of active suspension, Respondent has fully complied with all the terms of his probation to date, his license shall be automatically reinstated, and he shall continue with the terms of his probation.”

Greenaway “must comply with treatment as determined and monitored by the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program” and “commit no violation of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct during his probation.”

Greenaway pleaded guilty in September to misdemeanor charges of possession of methamphetamine and obstruction of justice, both of which had been charged as Level 6 felonies when Greenaway was arrested in March 2019.

The Supreme Court immediately suspended Greenaway after his arrest and the county’s judges immediately suspended him.

According to a probable cause affidavit, after Greenaway bought about $140 worth of meth from a confidential informant in November 2018, Indiana State Police and Noblesville police moved on his vehicle after the arranged buy at a Goodwill parking lot in Noblesville.

A plain-clothes detective watching nearby exited his car and began to walk toward Greenaway, and uniformed officers in unmarked cars pulled in behind Greenaway’s vehicle after the handoff. As a state police officer identified himself and yelled for Greenaway to put his hands up, he “witnessed Greenaway place a plastic baggie that (an ISP detective) recognized and knew was methamphetamine in his mouth,” the affidavit says.

The detective “pushed his right thumb into Greenaway’s mouth trying to pry it open. This technique worked for a short time, until Greenaway used his teeth to bite down hard” onto the detective’s thumb, forcing him to remove it “to prevent further injury to his thumb. Suddenly, Greenaway opened his mouth and began to comply,” having swallowed the baggie.

After he was transported to Riverview Hospital, the affidavit says Greenaway told an ISP sergeant, “I have been set up.” Asked why he swallowed the package, the affidavit says Greenaway told investigators, “I panicked. I knew what it was and the guy said ‘State Police,’ and I said what the f— do I do and I swallowed the damn stuff so whatever it was, it’s in me now.”

The court’s Friday discipline order finds Greenaway violated Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct rules 1.1, failing to respect and comply with the law, and 1.2, failing to avoid impropriety and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity, independence and impartiality of the judiciary. His acts also violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b), committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the attorney’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.

“The parties cite as an aggravating factor the adverse impact Respondent’s misconduct had on the public’s confidence in the integrity of the judiciary and its respect for the Indiana judiciary. In mitigation, Respondent has no prior discipline as a judge or a lawyer, has cooperated with the disciplinary process, and has taken several proactive steps to address factors contributing to his misconduct,” the court found in its unanimous order.

The judicial discipline case is In the Matter of William Paul Greenaway, 19S-JD-165.

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