The judiciary today became the third branch of state government to tell Republican Marion County Traffic Court Judge Bill Young: "Not a fan!"
You may recall how Judge Young's practice of doubling or tripling the fines for people who went to trial and lost resulted in not only a class action lawsuit, but also the Indiana General Assembly's passage of a bill barring the practice that was signed into law by Governor Daniels.
Well, today the Indiana Supreme Court issued an opinion that unanimously chided Judge Young for failing to be impartial, courteous, and open-minded.
The short version? His Honor took a recess so a Defendant could discuss a plea agreement. She opted to go to trial, then when the State called its first witness, she changed her mind.
Young stated in response that if she was found guilty, she was going to jail for a year and added, "I don’t know if I want to take your plea. I’d rather just go to trial, I think. I don’t like being jerked around at all, all right?”
In addition, while reviewing the Defendant's criminal history at sentencing, Judge Young noted new charges for theft and battery. When the Defendant's counsel asid, "Those are only alleged charges," Young responded, "Sure, they are."
Here's the Supreme Court's rhetorical body slam:
Indiana Judicial Conduct Canon 2 requires a judge to “perform the duties of judicial office impartially, competently, and diligently.” Judges must be “objective and open-minded.” Rule 2.2, comment 1. “A judge shall perform the duties of judicial office . . . without bias or prejudice.” Rule 2.3(A). “A judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants.” Rule 2.8(B). A judge shall disqualify himself or herself “in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned” including in circumstances when “the judge has a personal bias or prejudicial concerning a party.” Rule 2.11(A).
The trial court’s behavior in this case did not meet these standards.
I've heard from judicial officers on both sides of the party fence that Judge Young is looking to move back into the City-County Building when the shuffling occurs by virtue of Judge Tonya Walton-Pratt going to the federal bench.
This is the conduct we should promote?