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[SUPREME] Discipline Charges Filed Against Judicial Candidate in Franklin County
Start Date: 10/26/2012
End Date: 10/26/2012
Entry Description The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has filed disciplinary charges against Tammy R. Davis, a candidate for judge of the Franklin Circuit Court. The charges stem from allegedly misleading statements Ms. Davis made (or which were attributed to her) about her opponent, Judge Steven Cox, during her campaign for Circuit Court judge. Several charges also stem from Ms. Davis’ failure to correct these statements.
The Code of Judicial Conduct applies to both judges and candidates for judicial office. If the Commission on Judicial Qualifications believes a judge or candidate for judge has violated the code of conduct, it can file charges, as it has done against Ms. Davis. The charges are allegations—only the five members of the Supreme Court can determine what, if any, allegations are true.
The charges center on statements made by or attributed to Ms. Davis regarding her opponent’s modification of a criminal defendant’s sentence. The statements relate to a defendant’s prison release date. Judge Cox released the defendant to probation in July 2010, but Ms. Davis maintained he was not eligible for release until March 2011. The defendant was in fact eligible for release in September 2010. The defendant is alleged to have committed crimes between September 2010 and March 2011. Ms. Davis repeatedly gave the public impression that the defendant would have been in prison at the time of the alleged crimes if Judge Cox had not modified his sentence.
The Judicial Qualifications Commission contacted Ms. Davis to alert her to the inaccuracies in her statements, and provided a letter from the Department of Correction verifying the defendant’s “out” date as September 2010. Still, Ms. Davis failed to correct the misleading statements made by or attributed to her that gave the inaccurate impression to the public that the defendant would have been in prison and would not have been able to commit certain crimes, including murder, had Judge Cox not modified the sentence.
A local newspaper attributed to Ms. Davis the statement that Judge Cox modified the defendant’s sentence because he was a boyhood friend of the defendant. There is no evidence to support Judge Cox and the defendant were friends.
The Commission alleges Ms. Davis knew statements she made were inaccurate, that she did not correct the mistaken impression from these statements, and did not accept the newspaper’s offer to print a clarification.
The Commission charges that by not correcting these misleading statements, which were disseminated publicly, Ms. Davis failed to act in a manner consistent with the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary. The statements in question were made to a local newspaper reporter, appeared on her campaign website, or were placed in her political advertisements.
She faces a total of seven charges of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct relating to statements made during the political campaign.
In addition to filing the charges, the Commission on Judicial Qualifications asked the Supreme Court to appoint three special masters to hold a public hearing on the charges. Ms. Davis has the opportunity to file an Answer to the charges with the Indiana Supreme Court within twenty days of receiving notice of the charges. After the Answer is filed, or when twenty days has passed, the Indiana Supreme Court will appoint three Masters (Judges) to conduct a public hearing. Counts 1 and 3 stem from statements attributed to Ms. Davis in published newspaper articles. The Commission charges in Counts 1 and 3 that by failing to correct inaccurate statements, Ms. Davis violated the Code of Judicial Conduct’s requirement that candidates act at all times in a manner consistent with the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary.
Count 2 alleges that Ms. Davis made, with reckless disregard for the truth, inaccurate statements on her campaign website and in political advertisements. The Commission alleges that by making these statements, Ms. Davis violated Rule 4.1(a)(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires judicial candidates to not knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, make any misleading statement.
Count 4 stems from Ms. Davis’ statement on her campaign website that intended to give the impression to voters that her opposing judicial candidate was granting favors to a defendant based on some improper relationship.
Count 5 is based on Ms. Davis’ quote in an August political advertisement that gave the improper impression that her opponent could not be trusted with the community’s safety and was inconsistent with Ms. Davis’ obligation to act at all times in a manner consistent with the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary.
Counts 6 and 7 arise from statements in political advertisements that were contrary to Ms. Davis’ obligation to act at all times in a manner consistent with the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary.
The Commission on Judicial Qualifications is the 7-member group that investigates alleged ethical misconduct by judges and candidates for judicial office. The Indiana Supreme Court has final authority over judicial discipline. The Court can dismiss the charges against Ms. Davis or it can impose sanctions ranging from a reprimand to a permanent ban on holding a judicial office in Indiana.
Location Information: Franklin County
Entry Category: Alerts and Notification Announcements
IN.gov Category: Law & Justice
Agency Name Courts, Indiana