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In re Robison

Supreme Court of Indiana

February 4, 2019

In the Matter of the Honorable Geoff L. Robison, Judge of the New Haven City Court, Respondent.

         Judicial Discipline Action

          ATTORNEY FOR RESPONDENT J. Michael Loomis Loomis Law Office Fort Wayne, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR INDIANA COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL QUALIFICATIONS Adrienne L. Meiring, Counsel to the Commission Marcus A. McGhee, Staff Attorney to the Commission Indianapolis, Indiana

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM

         On September 21, 2018, the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications filed a "Notice of the Institution of Formal Proceedings and Statement of Charges" ("Complaint") against the Respondent, Geoff L. Robison. Respondent timely filed an Answer, and a panel of Masters was appointed on November 1, with a hearing scheduled to commence on January 24, 2019.

         On December 31, 2018, the parties tendered a "Conditional Agreement and Petition to Dismiss Matter as Moot." On January 15, 2019, the Court issued an order accepting the conditional agreement, dismissing this matter as moot, and discharging the appointed Masters. We now write to further explain this disposition.

         Stipulated Facts

         Respondent, at all times pertinent to the charges, was the judge of the New Haven City Court. Respondent is not an attorney.

         Respondent resigned as judge of the New Haven City Court effective December 26, 2018. That same day, the New Haven City Council unanimously voted to close the New Haven City Court, effective December 31. The parties' Conditional Agreement, which this Court accepted on January 15, 2019, prohibits Respondent from future judicial service.

         Discussion

         When Respondent took office in 2000, only circuit court, superior court, and appellate judges were required to be Indiana-licensed attorneys. Ind. Const. Art. 7, §§ 7, 10; Ind. Code § 33-29-1-3. In 2015, Indiana Code section 3-8-1-1.5 was amended to require judicial candidates of all town courts and certain city courts to be Indiana attorneys in good standing. Non-attorney judges, like attorney judges, are ethically bound by the Rules of the Code of Judicial Conduct. See Ind. Code of Judicial Conduct, Application 1(A).

         The Complaint alleges, and Respondent admits, that in 2003, the New Haven City Court and the Allen County prosecutor entered into a written Agreement by which the Prosecutor's Diversion Fund would pay the City of New Haven up to $25 for each infraction deferral contract the New Haven City Court executed. In April 2015, the prosecutor informed Respondent that he and his staff were no longer authorized to use the prosecutor's signature stamp to execute infraction deferral agreements and that infraction cases would no longer be filed in New Haven City Court.

         After this conversation, Respondent and his staff continued to use the prosecutor's signature stamp to execute infraction deferral agreements pursuant to the 2003 Agreement. In his Answer, Respondent claims that the prosecutor's unilateral change in filing policies breached this Agreement, and argues that it was the prosecutor's responsibility, not the court's, to ensure that local law enforcement agencies were made aware of this policy change and amended their filing practices accordingly.

         Indiana Code section 34-28-5-1(f) provides that individuals who were under 18 at the time of an offense are not eligible for an infraction deferral program if the alleged violation falls under certain categories, including traffic regulations, driver's license violations, and open alcoholic beverage violations. Respondent admits that he placed juveniles in the infraction deferral program, thereby violating section ...


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