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In re Young

Supreme Court of Indiana

March 14, 2018

In the Matter of the Honorable Dean A. Young, Judge of the Blackford Circuit Court, Respondent.

         Judicial Discipline Action Hon. Judith Stewart, Hon. Earl G. Penrod, Senior Judge, and Hon. Matthew C. Kincaid, Special Masters.

          ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT Scott E. Shockley James R. Williams Muncie, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR INDIANA COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL QUALIFICATIONS Seth Pruden, Counsel to the Commission Marcus McGhee, Staff Attorney to the Commission Indianapolis, Indiana

          OPINION

          Per Curiam.

         We find that Respondent, the Honorable Dean A. Young, Judge of the Blackford Circuit Court, engaged in judicial misconduct relating to a temporary restraining order that he heard and issued without adequate notice to the responding party or witnesses, and while he had a specific interest in the subject matter. The Special Masters recommended, and the parties agree, that the appropriate discipline is to suspend Judge Young for six days without pay.

         This matter is before us on the report of the Special Masters we appointed to hear evidence on the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications' ("Commission's") "Notice of the Institution of Formal Proceedings and Statement of Charges" against Judge Young, and on the parties' joint response to the report. We have original jurisdiction under Article 7, Section 4 of the Indiana Constitution and Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 25.

         Background Facts[1]

         This case arose in 2015 from a disagreeable relationship between Derinda Shady, who was the elected Blackford County Clerk, and the County's two judges: Circuit Court Judge Young and Superior Court Judge John Barry. The tension culminated in the two Judges holding a restraining-order hearing at which Shady was not present, then issuing a restraining order barring her from the courthouse until the order was vacated six days later.

         On August 3, 2015, the Blackford County Council announced its intent to cut funding for two positions in the Blackford County Clerk's office. That announcement upset Shady, who did not think her office could do its work with only the two employees who would remain.

         Shady asked Judge Young to intervene with the County Council, but he and Judge Barry declined and instead transferred open criminal-court files to their own offices in an effort to lighten the Clerk's workload. Those decisions angered Shady-she told Judge Young, "You can collect your own court costs, too, " and she told Judge Barry that he'd "better bring a cop" if he came to retrieve the files. She apologized a few days later and let the files be transferred without incident. But she also continued referring to the Judges by obscene names in front of office staff and the public. (The Judges knew secondhand of her insolence but took no action.)

         On August 19, the County Council held a public hearing for budget appeals. Shady attended to appeal the defunding decision, and the Judges attended the meeting for her part of the discussion before going back to Judge Young's home. The Council rejected Shady's staffing appeal, and Shady was rude to Council members afterward-but she made no specific threat not to do her job or to destroy court records. Judge Barry received reports about Shady's rude behavior and told Judge Young about them, but Judge Young did not see Shady's behavior firsthand.

         The next morning, August 20, Judge Young arrived at the courthouse at about 7:30 and began making phone calls, including to one of the Council members, asking about Shady's behavior the previous evening. He then met with Judge Barry and suggested that they "would have a hearing and 'lock [Shady] out of her office'" if her behavior did not change.

         By 8:00 that morning, Judge Young went to the Clerk's Office to demand that Shady come upstairs to meet with him and Judge Barry. Shady was on the phone at the time, but after her call, she phoned Judge Young and told him "if he had something to say that he could come down to her office." Judge Young replied, "Get up here! Now!" Shady came upstairs and brought her daughter, Deputy Clerk Patricia Milholland. But Judge Young was unwilling to have Milholland present. At a stalemate, Shady and Milholland went back downstairs after a few minutes, and no meeting happened that day.

         The Special Masters found that Judge Young probably told Shady that they would hold a hearing about her conduct if she refused to talk to them-but probably not that they would hold the hearing a matter of minutes later, or that the issue would involve contempt of court or enjoining her from entering the Courthouse.

          Unbeknownst to Judge Young, Shady went home upset after the abortive "meeting" and went to the hospital with a panic attack later that morning. Sometime after Shady left, Judge Young sent a Sheriff's Deputy to bring Shady, Milholland, and another Deputy Clerk upstairs to court. The Special Masters found that neither Deputy Clerk probably knew why they were being brought into court, even though Judge Young was probably considering enjoining them from the building, too. (Findings 17-19)

         Beginning at 8:25 a.m., Judges Young and Barry sua sponte began a hearing to enjoin Shady from the Courthouse. There was no written application, affidavit, or verified complaint. Shady had no written notice of the date and time of the hearing or its subject, nor did the Deputy Clerks who were present ...


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