Indiana attorney general’s future in question if suspended

Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill

Former state Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby wrote in her report to the court that Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill’s “conduct was offensive, invasive, damaging and embarrassing” to the women.

Posted: Feb 18, 2020 11:54 AM
Updated: Feb 18, 2020 12:07 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A prominent supporter of Indiana’s attorney general is arguing that a proposed suspension of his law license over allegations of drunkenly groping four women is excessive and that even the proposed punishment wouldn’t force him from office.

It remained unclear Monday whether Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill could remain in as the state government’s top lawyer if the Indiana Supreme Court agreed with a hearing officer’s recommendation released Friday that his law license be suspended for at least 60 days.

Hill has denied wrongdoing and rebuffed calls from Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and other GOP state officials for his resignation for his actions during the March 2018 party at an Indianapolis bar marking the end of that year’s legislative session.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby wrote in her report to the court that Hill’s “conduct was offensive, invasive, damaging and embarrassing” to the women.

She recommended a 60-day suspension of his law license without automatic reinstatement under which the sanction could continue indefinitely until lifted by the state Supreme Court, which will make the final decision in the professional misconduct case.

James Bopp, a Terre Haute attorney who is a former vice chairman of the Republican National Committee, objected to Selby’s findings that Hill should be held to a higher standard of conduct because of his status as the state’s top law enforcement officer.

“He should not be treated more harshly because he is a public official, that’s the job of the voters,” said Bopp, who helped start a legal defense fund for Hill in 2018. “When people do things in office, they’re judged by the voters.”

Messages seeking comment were left Monday for attorneys who represented Hill during an October hearing before Selby.

Hill’s attorneys have 30 days to submit filings to the Supreme Court, which doesn’t face a deadline for ruling.

The wait for that decision comes as Hill is seeking reelection to the office he first won in 2016, but first needs to win nomination in June’s state Republican convention.

He’s being opposed by Adam Krupp, who stepped down in January as the Holcomb-appointed head of the state revenue department to run for attorney general.

The court’s decision is key as state law requires the attorney general to be “duly licensed to practice law in Indiana” but doesn’t otherwise specify those law license requirements.

Republican Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, who called for Hill’s resignation in 2018, said he believed Hill could remain in office while under a short-term suspension, although the prospect of an indefinite suspension causes uncertainty that he hoped the five-member Supreme Court would address in its final ruling.

“I will publicly ask for them to give clarity to the state on the issue rather than making someone file (a lawsuit) for clarity after the fact,” Bosma said.

The governor’s office has lawyers reviewing the issue but didn’t have additional comment Monday, Holcomb spokeswoman Rachel Hoffmeyer said.

Bopp said he believed Hill could continue in office during a suspension handling administrative matters while delegating any legal work to others.

The allegations against Hill include that he grabbed the buttocks of Democratic Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon and inappropriately touched and made unwelcomed sexual comments toward three female legislative staffers — ages 23 to 26 at the time.

A special prosecutor declined to file criminal charges and the women have filed a federal lawsuit against Hill and the state accusing him of sexual harassment and defamation.

Selby found that Hill used his state office “to intimidate the four women who alleged misconduct, three of whom were young women at the onset of their careers.

(Hill’s) unwavering public campaign in defense of himself showed little restraint and amplified the impact of his conduct on the four women.”

Bopp contrasted the proposed punishment for Hill to the 60- or 30-day suspensions ordered by the Supreme Court for three southern Indiana judges whose actions during a night of downtown Indianapolis bar-hopping escalated a fight during which two of them were shot.

Selby concluded that Hill committed a misdemeanor-level battery offense, but that the state attorney disciplinary commission didn’t prove the more serious allegation of sexual battery.

“In that context I just think the recommended punishment is grossly excessive,” Bopp said. “I just think treating him way more severely is just not justified.”

Indiana House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Torr said it would likely fall to the state Supreme Court to state whether a temporary attorney suspension would allow Holcomb to appoint a replacement for Hill.

“If he was disbarred, the answer would be obvious,” said Torr, a Carmel Republican. “In this case, the answer would not be so obvious.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926604

Reported Deaths: 15083
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1262201958
Lake626901087
Allen52772747
Hamilton43283445
St. Joseph41475584
Elkhart33129488
Vanderburgh29927439
Tippecanoe26589247
Johnson23267415
Hendricks21902340
Porter21473341
Clark17150224
Madison17065379
Vigo15815273
Monroe14298190
LaPorte14108237
Delaware13771219
Howard13635262
Kosciusko11232134
Hancock10637160
Warrick10523176
Bartholomew10341167
Floyd10200202
Wayne9690218
Grant8939196
Morgan8734158
Boone8299109
Dubois7596123
Henry7469128
Dearborn745187
Noble7294101
Marshall7237128
Cass7097117
Lawrence6862150
Shelby6457107
Jackson643981
Gibson6036106
Harrison595585
Huntington591891
Montgomery5706102
DeKalb563591
Knox537599
Miami531983
Clinton527164
Putnam525367
Whitley516251
Steuben486367
Wabash477492
Jasper471961
Jefferson461991
Ripley444175
Adams439365
Daviess4064106
Scott394963
White386257
Clay382356
Greene380189
Wells379683
Decatur379595
Fayette367176
Posey354941
Jennings346356
Washington325847
LaGrange315774
Spencer313034
Fountain309753
Randolph305487
Sullivan299447
Owen279161
Starke272761
Orange272659
Fulton268851
Jay250634
Perry247451
Carroll241127
Franklin233637
Vermillion229750
Rush228930
Parke215220
Tipton206754
Pike202538
Blackford165634
Pulaski158751
Crawford142818
Newton140742
Benton139816
Brown132646
Martin126916
Switzerland123510
Warren113416
Union93511
Ohio77211
Unassigned0468

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1342777

Reported Deaths: 21471
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1502191556
Cuyahoga1327732318
Hamilton962791318
Montgomery659161136
Summit555141045
Lucas50248862
Butler46732653
Stark40741974
Lorain31004529
Warren29609328
Mahoning26462637
Clermont25206287
Lake24339416
Delaware22014143
Licking20180241
Fairfield20139221
Greene19955268
Trumbull19500508
Medina19478286
Clark17565325
Richland15949231
Portage15851228
Wood15438208
Allen13875256
Miami13549249
Muskingum12261149
Wayne11647237
Columbiana11344239
Tuscarawas10657265
Marion10509148
Pickaway10301128
Scioto10082126
Erie9618171
Ross9209174
Lawrence8516116
Hancock8298141
Ashtabula8180185
Geauga8066155
Belmont7966184
Jefferson7324168
Huron7253127
Union717849
Washington7037119
Athens681064
Sandusky6734133
Darke6559136
Knox6475121
Seneca6237137
Ashland5808112
Auglaize580488
Shelby5654101
Mercer552190
Brown551068
Defiance5361100
Madison535170
Crawford5299114
Highland527581
Fulton520082
Clinton515980
Logan503182
Preble4902110
Putnam4778106
Guernsey454661
Williams448281
Champaign436264
Perry432152
Ottawa431184
Jackson413260
Pike378941
Morrow369150
Fayette367652
Coshocton359466
Hardin350069
Adams348069
Gallia338054
Holmes3197108
Henry318868
Van Wert307170
Hocking291669
Wyandot276158
Carroll256752
Paulding236442
Meigs205242
Monroe185049
Noble164840
Morgan159228
Harrison151940
Vinton133918
Unassigned05
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