Attorney for Respondent Attorney for The Commission
Hon. Jerry F. Jacobi on Judicial Qualifications
Raymond J. Hafsten, Jr. Margaret W. Babcock
Indianapolis, Indiana Indianapolis, Indiana
IN THE MATTER OF THE ) HONORABLE JERRY F. ) Supreme Court No. JACOBI, Judge of the ) 10S00-9903-JD-185 Clark Superior Court ) ________________________________________________________________________Discipline Rule 25 give the Indiana Supreme Court original jurisdiction over this matter. Subsequent to the filing of formal charges by the Qualifications Commission, the parties jointly tendered a Statement of Circumstances and Conditional Agreement for Discipline which the Court approved by written order. The parties have agreed to the following background information and stipulated facts.
JUDICIAL DISCIPLINARY ACTION________________________________________________________________________
September 9, 1999
Per Curiam This matter comes before the Court as a result of a judicial disciplinary action brought by the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications (Qualifications Commission ) against the Respondent herein, Jerry F. Jacobi, judge of Clark Superior Court 1. Article 7 Section 4 of the Indiana Constitution and Indiana Admission and
also set a hearing for August 21. Then, on August 13, the Respondent sua sponte
disqualified himself and named a panel of three potential special judges from outside
Clark County. After the striking process did not produce a special judge, the Honorable
Richard G. Striegel of the Floyd Superior Court was assigned as special judge by the
Administrative District Assignment Judge. A hearing on the preliminary injunction was
held on August 21 before Judge Striegel. He issued an order, pursuant to the agreement
of all parties, which returned James Witten to the Reuse Authority Board.
However, the attorney for the Commissioners, Daniel Moore, states that no notice was
given on August 12 of the petition or of any hearing thereon, and that he did not know
Wilder was seeking a TRO that afternoon.
Respondent made no independent effort to contact Moore and, again, Wilder made no certification of his efforts to give notice. Moore's telephone number was known to Respondent and to Wilder and Moore had been in the Clark Superior Court 1 courtroom on a case with a special judge until sometime between 4:00 and 4:30. Moore had conversed with Respondent just prior to his 3:30 hearing before the special judge. Respondent stated in his order granting the TRO, "[T]he Court finds that the Clark Commissioners, by its attorney, Daniel Moore, has been served with notice of this petition by same being provided to him in person."
Respondent was at the time of the granting of the petition seeking the TRO, and for many years preceding that action, a close personal friend of Murphy and of the Wilder family. He had socialized with Larry Wilder and had lived for a period of time in the senior Wilder's house. At the time the TRO was issued, Respondent employed Wilder's father, Harry, as his bailiff. He previously had employed another son of Harry Wilder as his probation officer.
Respondent recused himself from this case after naming a panel of proposed special judges from outside Clark County, contrary to the applicable Local Rule 25, which calls for the district's Assignment Judge to appoint a special judge within five days
of a regular judge's disqualification. He has stated he recused himself because he felt no
Clark County judge should be involved in the merits of this political dispute.
The parties agree that the failure to obtain from Wilder his certification that notice had been made, or of what efforts he had made to give notice, or of the reasons notice was not required, along with the judge's failure to make a simple inquiry to attorney Moore's office to determine whether he was available to meet with the judge and Wilder about the petition seeking a TRO, joined with the close personal relationship among Wilder, Murphy, and Respondent, including their significant contacts on the preceding day during which the TRO petition was being planned by Murphy, Wilder, and other Clark County municipalities that subsequently joined the Utica litigation, created a significant appearance of impropriety and potentially threatened the public's confidence in the judicial system.
The parties agree that Respondent violated Canon 1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which generally requires judges to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary; Canon 2(A), which generally requires judges to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety, to respect and comply with the law, and to act at all times in a manner which promotes the public's confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary; and Canon 3(B)(2), which generally requires judges to be faithful to the law.
this misconduct is a three day suspension from office without pay. The costs of this
proceeding are assessed against Respondent.
All Justices concur.
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