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Justices warn municipal court judges for overstepping boundaries

February 7, 2019

Retired New Haven City Court Judge Geoff Robison wasn’t the only municipal court jurist to act outside the legal boundaries of his position, the Indiana Supreme Court said this week. 

Robison, who resigned Dec. 26 as the New Haven City Council voted to close the court, was charged with judicial misconduct by the state Commission on Judicial Qualifications. He denied the allegation, but the panel said he wrongly allowed juveniles to resolve cases through a deferral program and acted as a prosecutor when he processed tickets filed with the court and used a prosecutor’s stamp to sign off on agreements on infractions. 

The high court dismissed the case last month because Robison resigned and the court no longer exists. Robison, who is not a lawyer and had served as city court judge since 2000, is barred from future judicial service under an agreement he signed. 

Justices issued an opinion Monday warning against city and town court judges acting as prosecutors, the officers authorized to enforce state infraction statutes. The opinion cites at least two other town court judges who overstepped their authority. 

Fremont Town Court Judge Martha C. Hagerty was admonished by the commission in 2012 for acting as a prosecutor when she tried to negotiate a resolution to a defendant’s case, court records show. She was scolded for a similar violation three years later. 

Walkerton Town Court Judge Roger L. Huizenga was admonished in 2009, also for trying to negotiate a resolution to a defendant’s case. He also employed his wife as town court clerk for more than a decade, violating court rules. 

mleblanc@jg.net

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