In re Judge HarkinAnnotate this Case
Respondent, a judge of the city court, dismissed the traffic infraction cases of all litigants who attended traffic school and paid the applicable fee. Respondent also entered default judgment, imposed fines and court costs, and ordered the suspension of driver's licenses of all litigants who selected traffic school but failed to complete the class. Respondent, however, had no authority to discharge traffic infraction cases without a specific request from the prosecuting attorney or to divert litigants' cases through a de facto deferral program not authorized by the county prosecutor. The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications then brought a judicial disciplinary action against Respondent. Respondent and the Commission agreed that by referring traffic infraction litigants to the traffic school and then dismissing their cases upon their completion of the program without any dismissal request from the prosecutor, Respondent abused his judicial authority, committed conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and violated the Code of Judicial Conduct's provisions that required him to comply with the law. As a sanction for this misconduct, the Supreme Court suspended Respondent from office without pay for a period of sixty days.