Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hendricks Circuit Judge Jeffrey Boles Contempt of Law

Our Founding Fathers sought to avoid the tyranny of a despot be it one who sat in the executive or the judicial branch. In reality, a despot often sat as both.

Hendricks County in central Indiana has had it's own despot for many years. Judge Jeffrey Boles of the Hendricks Circuit Court is that despot. Boles has brought dishonour to the bench through intimidation of lawyers, politicians and litigants but does not intimidate this writer.

On 05 February 1990 the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications initiated proceedings and charged Boles with two counts of misconduct.

Count I -

That while serving as Judge of the Hendricks Circuit Court, Boles engaged in willful misconduct in office, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and conduct violating Canons 2, 3, and 7 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. In its charging complaint the Commission set forth its supporting information.

The basis of this charge involves fees charged by the public defender system and the process by which reimbursements are made to the County for pauper counsel.

Attorneys John Pierce and Kevin Hinkle were partners in a Danville law firm that employed attorney Philip Gundlach. Additionally Hinkle served as a member of the Henricks County Council.

On or about 26 October 1988 Gundlach was appointed by Judge Boles to represent Robert Woolf who was a juvenile charged in a delinquency proceeding. While this charge was pending a separate criminal charge was filed against Woolf.

The delinquency charge was set to be heard on 21 November 1988 but Judge Boles, over the objection of the defendant, reset the trial for December. However, the next day Judge Boles dismissed the charge.

The following day Gundlach, the attorney for Woolf, submitted his claim for legal services provided and expenses. The claim set forth 43.2 hours plus $22.80 in direct costs. The usual reimbursement rate for public defenders was $35 per hour. The total claim was $1534.80.

On 30 November 1988 Judge Boles entered an order that the County was to pay $322.80 to attorney Gundlach with the balance to be paid by Woolf's parents even though Woolf had been adjudicated a delinquent. Boles then entered a judgment of $1212 against the parents in favor of Gundlach. No hearing was conducted to determine if Woolf's parents had the ability to pay the attorney fees.

Indiana Code 31-6-4-18 [now 31-40-1-3] provided that a parent could be held financially responsible for the legal defense costs of their minor child if the court determined that the parents had the ability to pay and that it was in the interest of justice. The law further provided that the attorney is to be paid by the County and then the parents or guardians are to reimburse the county if ordered to do so.

The reimbursement provision ensures that attorneys will serve as public defenders at a reduced rate knowing that their pay is guaranteed and they will not have to suffer administrative costs in trying to collect on a judgment or have the judgment discharged in a bankruptcy proceedings. This ultimately saves taxpayers a considerable amount of money.

Two days later Pierce, the partner who employs Gundlach, sent a letter to Judge Boles objecting to the 30 November 1988 order. On 05 December 1988 Boles retaliated by vacating the order and ordering the County Auditor to return all claims for payment in the matter. Two days later Pierce requested that the prosecuting attorney, David Coleman who now sits as a Superior Court judge, examine Boles actions with a view towards criminally prosecuting him.

In the foregoing criminal proceeding against Woolf he was found guilty and Judge Boles ordered that his parents were to pay attorney fees directly to counsel for the criminal cause, Harold Blake.

At the December 1988 Hendricks County Council meeting councilman Hinkle, who is the partner in the firm that hired Gundlach, raised the issue of the legal mechanism by which pauper attorney fees are to be paid. The matter was referred to the County Attorney, Steuerwald.

On 22 December 1988 Prosecuting Attorney David Coleman advised attorney Pierce, the partner of Hinkle, that he found no illegal conduct in the payment of fees directly to attorneys rather than the County as required by law.

On 27 December 1988 attorney Blake billed to the parents of Woolf $3690 for his attorney fees in defending their son.

On or about 19 January 1989 Robert Woolf, Sr. filed a complaint with the Commission relating to the conduct of Judge Boles in the juvenile proceedings involving his son. About two weeks later Woolf paid half the bill to attorney Blake as a settlement for the full fee.

On 14 February 1989 Gundlach filed a motion seeking to resolve the issue of his unpaid legal fees. Judge Boles, without a hearing to determine Woolf's ability to pay, found that the parents could pay and ordered that "under no circumstances will the taxpayers of Hendricks County be required by the Court to pay legal costs on the extraordinary bill submitted by Mr Gundlach."

On or about 4 April 1989 attorney Gundlach was granted an emergency Writ of Prohibition by the Indiana Supreme Court prohibiting Judge Boles from enforcing in any fashion the order of which Gundlach complained. The writ was later made permanent. 10 days later Gundlach filed a Motion to Correct Error in the proceedings involving Woolf.

On 24 April 1989 Judge Boles entered "Findings of Fact, Judgment and Order of the Court". In there he denied Gundlach's rightful claim for attorney fees at the then prevailing rate of $35 per hour by declaring:
"Requiring the citizens of Hendricks County to pay this extraordinary bill would allow Robert L.K. Woolf and Philip L. Gundlach to cheat the taxpayers and steal from the public and put the control of payment of attorney fees out of the hands of the Hendricks County Council."

That Judge Boles then placed the burden upon the taxpayers of the State of Indiana to pay the costs of an appeal in which Boles was instructed by the Indiana Court of Appeals to vacate the orders of 30 November 1988 and 14 February 1989 which related to the attorney fees requested by Gundlach.

The Commission based it's charge as follows:

That through the 30 November 1988 order directing that pauper counsel fees be paid directly to attorney Gundlach that Judge Boles did "engage in willful misconduct in office; engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; failed to respect and comply with the law, and conducted himself in a manner that does not promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary in violation of Canon 2A of the Code of Judicial Conduct; failed to be faithful to the law and be unswayed by partisan interest, public clamor or fear of criticism in violation of Canon 3A(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct; and failed to provide every person who is interested in a proceeding full right to be heard according to law as required by Canon 3A(4) of the Code of Professional Responsibility."

That by entering the order directing Woolf to pay pauper fees directly to attorney Blake for representation of Woolf in the criminal proceeding Judge Boles "engaged in willful misconduct in office; engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; failed to respect and comply with the law, and conducted himself in a manner that does not promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary in violation of Canon 2A of the Code of Judicial Conduct; lent the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interest of another in violation of Canon 2B of the Code of Judicial Conduct; and failed to be faithful to the law and be unswayed by partisan interest, public clamor or fear of criticism in violation of Canon 3A(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct;

That by entering the order of 14 February 1989, when Judge Boles said that in no way would the taxpayers pay the extraordinary bill submitted by Gundlach that Boles "engaged in willful misconduct in office; engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; failed to respect and comply with the law, and conducted himself in a manner that does not promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary in violation of Canon 2A of the Code of Judicial Conduct; failed to be faithful to the law and be unswayed by partisan interest, public clamor or fear of criticism in violation of Canon 3A(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct; and failed to provide every person who is interested in a proceeding full right to be heard according to law as required by Canon 3A(4) of the Code of Judicial Conduct."

That when Judge Boles directed attorney Gundlach to provide affirmations of certain acts by other individuals Boles "engaged in willful misconduct in office; engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; failed to respect and comply with the law, and conducted himself in a manner that does not promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary in violation of Canon 2A of the Code of Judicial Conduct; failed to be faithful to the law and be unswayed by partisan interest, public clamor or fear of criticism in violation of Canon 3A(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct; and failed to be dignified and courteous to individuals with whom he deals in his official capacity as required by Canon 3A(3) of the Code of Judicial Conduct."

That by entering the order of 24 April 1989 when Judge Boles said that attorney Gundlach cheated and stole from the taxpayers, and having determined that Woolf would be liable to pay his son's attorney fees without having held a hearing on the matter Boles "engaged in willful misconduct in office; engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; failed to respect and comply with the law, and conducted himself in a manner that does not promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary in violation of Canon 2A of the Code of Judicial Conduct; failed to be faithful to the law and be unswayed by partisan interest, public clamor or fear of criticism in violation of Canon 3A(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct; failed to be dignified and courteous to individuals with whom he deals in his official capacity as required by Canon 3A(3) of the Code of Judicial Conduct; and failed to provide every person who is interested in a proceeding full right to be heard according to law as required by Canon 3A(4) of the Code of Judicial Conduct."

Judge Boles through his overall conduct demonstrated the use of the judicial office for political objectives and by such conduct he "engaged in willful misconduct in office; engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; and engaged in political activity which did not involve measures to improve the law, the legal system or the administration of justice in violation of Canon 7A(4) of the Code of Judicial Conduct."

The Commission made its recommendation to the Indiana Supreme Court on 13 March 1990 which included the following statements;

* * * He misused the power of his office, displayed a lack of judicial temperament, and engaged in improper political activity in his crusade on behalf of "taxpayers".

Judge Boles constant representation in his Orders and entries that he was the representative of the Hendricks County taxpayers against the greed of Gundlach can be seen only as a thinly disguised campaign tactic.

The language in this Order reveals not only Judge Boles' tendency to follow his own law, but illustrates that his current judicial temperament and demeanor warrant discipline. * * *

The Commission recommended that Judge Boles be suspended for a period of not less than 3 months and not more than 6 months.

Count II -

That while serving as Judge of the Hendricks Circuit Court, Boles engaged in willful misconduct in office, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and conduct violating Canons 2, 3, and 7 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Between 1985 and 1988 Judge Boles had an ongoing dispute with the Hendricks County Commissioners about the conduct of meetings. Particularly he objected to the practice of not publishing an agenda prior to the meetings.

On or about 18 August 1988, on Court stationery, Judge Boles wrote to the Commissioners and stated that their action on 15 August 1988 approving the purchase of certain property violated the Open Door Law. On 08 September 1988 Boles wrote a similar letter in which he purported to represent the citizens and taxpayers of Hendricks County. During this time there was no matter before the Court involving the Commissioners.

That contemporaneous to the second letter Boles filed a Lis Pendens Notice for the property in question which clouded its title.

The Commission based it's charge as follows:

By interfering with the duties of the County Commissioners and directing their activities without a proper proceeding before the court Judge Boles "engaged in willful misconduct in office; engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; conducted himself in a manner that does not promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary in violation of Canon 2A of the Code of Judicial Conduct;
failed to be unswayed by partisan interest, public clamor or fear of criticism in violation of Canon 3A(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct; publicly commented on a matter which reasonably might be litigated in his court in violation of Canon 3A(6) of the Code of Judicial Conduct; and engaged in political activity which did not involve measures to improve the law, the legal system or the administration of justice in violation of Canon 7A(4) of the Code of Judicial Conduct."

The Commission made its recommendation to the Indiana Supreme Court on 13 March 1990 which included the following statement;

* * * Finally, although not charged in the complaint, his filing of the Lis Pendens Notice on behalf of the taxpayers constituted a violation of the prohibition against the practice of law. * * *

Judgment -


On 20 June 1990 the Court entered its judgment of discipline against Boles. The opinion was delivered by Chief Justice Shepard with DeBruler and Dickson concurring.

Following are some excerpts from that decision.

After forebearing a long history of disruptive behavior by Jeffrey V Boles, Judge of the Hendricks Circuit Court, the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications initiated formal charges against him alleging two recent violations. After initially denying that his actions were wrong in any way, Respondent Boles has now admitted that he committed misconduct and filed a written apology for his actions. Respondent and the Commission have proposed to this Court a sanction of sixty (60) days suspension without pay.

It also shows that the Respondent has ordered prisoners executed without appeal, granted probation to a convicted murderer though Indiana law prohibits probation for murderers, and frequently uses his office to intimidate citizens and lawyers for his own personal purposes.

Suspending Respondent for sixty days without pay is the highest sanction actually imposed by this Court in fifteen years.

Clearly it is the County's responsibility to first pay attorney fees. If the juvenile is found to be delinquent, the judge may then, after fair hearing regarding finances of the parents, require repayment to the County. Because of Respondent's dismissal of the charges, the juvenile could not be found delinquent, and the parents cannot be required to repay the County.

. . . yet he chose to ignore and defy the law. Such conduct is not appropriate because it destroys the public's confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

"These actions were compounded by Respondent's clear efforts at retaliation for what he perceives as a challenge to his authority." - Indiana Supreme Court's Order suspending Boles for 60 days.

Boles misused the power of his public office, displayed a lack of judicial temperament, and engaged in improper political activity in his crusade to portray himself as a 'taxpayers' hero.

Respondent's misconduct in this regard was compounded by the fact that his order to Gundlach directed Gundlach to ratify or reject the filing of a judicial discipline complaint by the juvenile's father. We view the Respondent's order as an impermissible attempt to interdict the Commission's lawful authority.

Respondent's repeated assaults on the County Commissioners for violations of the Open Door Law by not having an agenda falsely stated the law and Respondent knew it.

The obligation of a judicial officer is to uphold and apply the laws, not to defy them, and not to enact them. The judiciary is no place for one who wishes to make the law into his own hands. The making and changing of public policy, no matter how well intentioned, is primarily a legislative, not a judicial function.

The Respondent has injudiciously attacked a variety of litigants, attorneys, and public officials, often without legal or moral justification.

Dissent

PIVARNIK dissents in which GIVAN concurs.

"I respectfully dissent to the opinion of the majority accepting the terms of the conditional agreement for discipline submitted by the Judicial Qualifications Commission and Judge Boles which results in his suspension from office for a period of two months without pay, because I find such sanction to be inappropriately lenient.

It is apparent from the facts agreed to by all parties involved that the Respondent refuses to conform his conduct to that appropriate for judicial office. It would be my vote that he be removed from office."

Commentary

It is apparent that Judge Boles has brought disgrace and shame to the judiciary. It is for the very reasons articulated by the Court's opinion in this matter and the abuse of power demonstrated by Boles that the public loses confidence in the judiciary.

I will have much to say in the future about Boles as I gather more information on him. Although he may have shed a few crocodile tears and given a Hollywood scripted apology his abuse of power has not diminished. If the public records I have requested are made available to me you will get to see and hear more of Boles abuses.

Included is the unlawful use of his judicial power to assist in the abduction of a child.

Judge Boles needs to be removed from office just as Justices Pivarnik and Givan rightfully voted to do nearly twenty years ago. It is incumbent upon the voters of Hendricks County to fulfill their obligation to ensure that they elect a representative for the court that has respect for the law.

Judge Boles does not have respect for the citizens, litigants that come before him or the law. There is a reason he received the harshest sanction handed out in fifteen years.

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5 comments:

Saurabi said...

looks like at the end of this union, everybody want to joint to another firm, viagra online lawyer firm was the most famous in that time, maybe for this the problem started.

chrissy jett said...

Well I guess he didn't learn becase he room my children away from me and gave them to an abusive drug addict and alcoholic who doesn't let me see my kids much. But no body will help me. I am a good mom and raised the oldest child by myself for 4 years while the father played house with some woman off the internet in Georgia. Sad.

chrissy jett said...

sorry about the typos I typed it on my phone and it makes up words. Judge Boles took my children away from me.

JohnE said...

I had a dream? It was a hot dog eating contest between Judge Boles and Boss Hog. It was held in a Bank Vault and Judge Boles ended up locking Boss Hog in the bank vault.

Lora Denney said...

When is his term up?