Indianapolis Judge Suspended Pending Possible Removal After Finding Of Dozens Of Violations

-tckbrown25.381458.jpg20061020The Indiana Supreme Court has suspended Marion Superior Judge Kimberly J. Brown pending a decision on final disciplinary action on misconduct charges. The suspension with pay could be followed by an order to remove Brown from the bench after a three-judge panel found clear and convincing evidence against her on 46 out of 47 counts of judicial misconduct. That is quite a record since Brown has yet to finish her first term.

The Supreme Court rejected a proposed finite suspension of 60 days by Brown and went with the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Qualifications. A three-judge panel last month for Brown to be permanently removed from the bench.

The panel found that Brown was abusive to lawyers and attorneys and failed to properly train or supervise court employees. She was also accused of delaying the release of at least nine defendants from jail. She was also accused of improperly dismissing a bailiff who cooperated in the charges against her and later failing to cooperate with the commission’s investigation. The later charge included a refusal to be sworn in as part of the commission proceedings.

While Brown first denied the allegations, she later apologized and sought a more lenient punishment.

She did not get it. The panel assembled 107 pages of findings of fact, conclusions of law that covered more than 80 violations. She was only cleared on Count 22 — an allegation that she interrupted a public defender and treated him in an injudicious manner.

What is interesting about the report of the panel is that Brown appears to have focused much of her hostility on public defendants, a pattern that even drew objections from prosecutors who felt uncomfortable by the mistreatment of their opposing counsel. She was also accused of a pattern of misplacing and mishandling files.

The panel or “special masters” was composed of retired Monroe Circuit Judge Viola Taliaferro, Boone Superior Judge Rebecca S. McClure and Lake Superior Judge Sheila M. Moss.

Among the rule violations were:

Rule 1.2: Acting in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Thirty-six violations.

Rule 2.5(A): Performing judicial duties competently, diligently and promptly. Thirty violations.

Rule 2.12(A): Duties of judicial office take precedence over a judge’s personal and extrajudicial activities. Eight violations.

Rule 2.8(B): Judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, court staff, court officials and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity and shall require similar conduct. Eight violations.

Rule 1.1: A judge shall comply with the law, including the Code of Judicial Conduct. One violation.

Rule 2.6(A): Allowing anyone with a legal interest in a proceeding, or that person’s lawyer, the right to be heard according to law. One violation.

Brown sits on the Superior Court of Marion County, Indiana and was elected to the court in 2008. She received her undergraduate degree from Purdue University in 1986 and her J.D. from the Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis in 1991. This was not her first judicial positions. Brown was a judge of the Washington Township Small Claims Court. She was also a judge pro tem for the Center Township Small Claims Court, and a deputy attorney general and commissioner for the Marion County Probate Court.

21 thoughts on “Indianapolis Judge Suspended Pending Possible Removal After Finding Of Dozens Of Violations”

  1. Even if she is removed, don’t expect it to be the end of her public career. I bought my first car (OK, my dad bought it) from a fellow who was later convicted of (successfully) bribing a judge to help his daughter in a drug case. That judge was impeached, tried and removed from Federal office because of multiple crimes. A surprisingly short time later, he was elected to Congress.

  2. IndyRes

    You are correct on that. I have seen personally numerous times where a public official, from a rank and file police officer to judges and politicians get increasing levels of deferrence and stalling through ever increasing levels of process bureaucracy and “special” investigations that usually either goes away or the official is exonerated after witnesses go away, or are pressured, and the charges against the accused are dropped.

    The opposite is nearly the case with regular people and is especially the case with those who are down and out or unfavored for whatever reason by the local police. The offender is immediately arrested and formal charges are filed summarily.

    It is not the case everywhere but often it is just a matter of degree.

  3. Yes she was suspended, but she was suspended with pay. So other than a public scolding no real effect as yet. I find it very troubling that a judge can refuse to be sworn and yet suffers no ill effects. If the average citizen refused to be sworn in a court case I’d bet their butt would be sitting in jail for contempt.

    See the link below to reference the comment about her disposition…

  4. Probably the worst over-story of this report is that the general public I know still thinks the best and brightest are appointed to the bench. Not too long ago a good lawyer I know took on a bad judge publicly. S/he won’t do that again. It was a nightmare from which that lawyer may never recover, requiring a move. The public I know doesn’t much like any of us, but they sure seem to like judges more than criminal defense lawyers.

    1. I don’t know about that lawyer chuck. Down here in Texas we make celebrities out of criminal defense lawyers like Percy Foreman, Racehorse Haynes, Dick DeGuerin, etc. I guess it depends on how much money the clients have. The richer the more respect and celebrity goes to the lawyer defending rich crooks. As Percy once said about his defending crooks and his sky high fees. Well, SOMEBODY has to punish them!

  5. the fish stinks from the head down. maybe if the supremes didn’t act dishonourably (took a lot not to use less flattering language), then their minions would behave in the same manner.

  6. joelbwriter, Certainly, all people have bias. A good judge understands their biases and does whatever possible to put them aside. There certainly are judges who use their religion or atheism as a bias, knowingly or subconsciously. We have seen that pathology here along w/ racial, sex, etc. bias. There is no indication here that religion is the issue. It would seem this judge’s issues involve inmates and criminal defendants. A possible background could be her, or a loved one, being a victim of crime. I would save the religious point for a post where that is indicated. Be patient, one will come along.

  7. Are these rules specifically for the state of Indiana or are they essentially the same everywhere:

    “Rule 2.12(A): Duties of judicial office take precedence over a judge’s personal and extrajudicial activities.”

    How many rulings do we see from judges who think this is a Christian nation and rule in favor of their interpretation of the Bible vs. the rule of law? It may be a very small number, but those rulings get a lot of notice, and for good reason. I’m picking on religious bias, but it certainly isn’t the only kind of personal opinion that smacks of judicial overreach with opinions handed down. Perhaps I’m missing something. No JD here. Just BS. er…. BA. =)

  8. Mr Ed: “Remembering that Indiana was/is the northern home of the Klan, should we take some of these findings to be a little prejudiced?”

  9. Remembering that Indiana was/is the northern home of the Klan, should we take some of these findings to be a little prejudiced?

  10. The allegation of so many defendants remaining in custody long after they were to be released, along with other abuses of the rights of the accused, is greatly troubling. I would hope this judge is not only removed from office, she should be disbarred.

    1. Darren, An excellent suggestion. That will keep her from coming to Texas and joining the judiciary here.

  11. Time for this judge to be referred to as an ex-judge. If the 80 violations are accurate, she is not fit for the job. It is very telling if both prosecutors and public defenders were in agreement.

  12. This only took a year…. I’m very surprised….. Usually they get to spread the misery for many years before anything happens…..

  13. She should move to Texas. The GOP will put her on the Supreme Court or the Court of Criminal Appeals to join Sharon Keller. Even when Keller was found guilty of misconduct and lied about her financial interests, they did nothing.

  14. Who is surprised the legal profession is held in such low esteem, with the likes of her crawling around its ranks?

  15. Divorce and bankruptcy practice is where she is suited. Run some ads in the paper and hang the shingle. No criminal defendant with a brain would go to her as defense counsel. She wont make it in real estate or estates. Divorce and bankruptcy.

  16. Judges in Indiana are elected. As in states where I lived where judges are elected, Judge Brown ran unopposed in 2008. Her prior judicial experience was small claims in another county. Being quite familiar w/ judicial elections in Wi. the past 30 years, the vast majority of lower court judges run unopposed. Judge Brown received ~7% of the vote. Unopposed judges in Wi. often hit double figures but the vote is always puny even in this civic minded state. But, when there is no other candidate, most people just don’t vote. Unfortunately, in too many elections, of other offices, this occurs. Or @ best, you get the duopoly choice. “There is no freedom w/o choice.”

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