Legal Ethics: Indiana Judge Banned from the Bench for Life

Posted on March 9th, 2014 by sutter-admin

We all know that 99 out of every 100 judges we have cases before are upstanding individuals. However, that one percent can really make life miserable for lawyers, litigants and even their own staff. But maybe not in Indiana. The Indiana Supreme Court removed former Judge Kimberly Brown from the Marion County, IN bench and permanently banned her from the judiciary.

According to a report in the ABA Journal, lawyers who practiced in front of Judge Brown were verbally abused on a routine basis. She labeled one attorney a “moron”, described a public defender as “evil” and she made disparaging remarks about a prosecutor’s weight problem. She also had two trial lawyers removed from her court for being “too adversarial”; while calling another lawyer “a pain in the ass”.

Litigants also suffered from poor treatment. One defendant’s motion for post-conviction relief was filed in 2009 but not heard until 2013. Another defendant’s conviction was over turned by the Court of Appeals but Judge Brown failed to vacate a judgment of conviction for over three years. Ten prisoners spent as much as 21 extra days in jail because Judge Brown neglected to complete the proper paperwork.

Courthouse staff were not exempted from verbal assault and mistreatment. Judge Brown allegedly stated that one staff member “wore her lesbianism on her sleeve” and called another “ghetto fabulous”. Others were accused of suffering from mental illness. When the investigation started, Judge Brown blamed many of the problems on her own staff instead of taking responsibility. All told, Judge Brown was accused of 45 counts of misconduct and 80 rule violations.

Curiously, the Indiana Supreme Court decided not to suspend Judge Brown’s license to practice law. She will be permitted to practice in the private sector. Oh goody!

More information on this disciplinary case can be found here.