Using Criminal Contempt Powers in an Ethical Manner
A defendant spews forth a string of curses during his initial hearing. A cell phone goes off in a busy courtroom, but no one will take responsibility for the disruption. When submitting a check to pay her fine, a litigant writes an expletive (expressing how she feels about the court) in the memo section.
Judges often face disrespectful and disruptive behavior in the courtroom. While a judge certainly can and should safeguard the integrity, security, and decorum of the court, a judge must be careful when exercising contempt powers to not turn an attempt to maintain courtroom control into an abuse of judicial power.
This is the twenty-third of our Court Times articles that highlight up close and personal a member of the Indiana Judiciary.
Henry Circuit Court Judge Mary Willis is our judge featured in this issue. She received her undergraduate degree from the Ball State University and her law degree from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Following graduation from law school in 1991, she was in private law practice in Greenfield until 1996 when then Henry Circuit Court Judge John Kellam appointed her as his Commissioner.