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New Haven judge has case dismissed

January 16, 2019

The Indiana Supreme Court has dismissed a judicial misconduct case against former New Haven City Court Judge Geoff Robison.

Robison, who is not a lawyer, took the bench in 2000 and presided over the court until Dec. 26, when he retired. The New Haven City Council voted the same day to shutter the court.

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications charged him in September with judicial misconduct, alleging he disobeyed orders from Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards in 2015 to stop processing state infractions filed with the court. Robison also allowed juveniles to resolve cases through a deferral program, which is not allowed, the state panel alleged.

The case was dismissed because Robison resigned and the court no longer exists, Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote in an order Tuesday. Robison and a group assigned by the court to consider the charges agreed to dismiss the case in late December, she wrote.

“Continued litigation of this matter would be an inefficient use of limited judicial resources,” the order states.

A hearing in the case had been scheduled Jan. 24, and Robison escapes punishment that could have ranged from a reprimand or suspension to a permanent ban on holding judicial office in Indiana.

State law allows municipal courts to handle misdemeanors and other infractions such as traffic tickets. The courts also handle violations of local laws.

At issue in the misconduct case was Robison allowing “the filing and processing of state infraction cases ... when the Allen County prosecutor’s office did not authorize the filing,” the state panel announced last year. Actions to enforce state infraction statutes must be brought by the prosecuting attorney, according to court documents filed in September.

Robison, a former New Haven police chief, countered with a filing in October saying Richards overstepped her authority. He said he was simply performing the duties spelled out by state law when he handled the cases.

Because he is not a lawyer, Robison “is not eligible for future judicial service, given current Indiana law,” the high court ruling states. ”...the parties agree that (Robison) is prohibited from future judicial service even if the legislature changes the law in the future to allow non-attorneys to serve as city or town court judges or other types of judges.”

State law had allowed people who were not lawyers to be city or town court judges.

Robison is prohibited from future judicial service, according to the agreement he signed with the state panel.

“Given (his) resignation and agreement to perform no judicial duties in the future ... the effect of the most likely sanctions that the court could impose if it were to find (Robison) culpable of all charges has already been achieved,” the agreement states.

mleblanc@jg.net

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