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.

Confirmed Cases: 147582

Reported Deaths: 3937
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24410780
Lake12911350
St. Joseph8651154
Elkhart8281130
Allen7756221
Hamilton5872113
Vanderburgh547750
Tippecanoe346414
Monroe316238
Hendricks3116130
Johnson2947127
Porter288948
Clark280857
Delaware277174
Vigo245534
Madison224587
Cass220120
LaPorte208853
Warrick185362
Floyd170865
Kosciusko169221
Howard155366
Bartholomew137557
Dubois133423
Marshall129826
Henry120728
Boone117748
Grant116839
Wayne114923
Hancock112844
Noble110033
Jackson106412
Morgan90840
Dearborn89528
Daviess82732
Gibson8229
Clinton80116
Shelby76929
Lawrence76732
LaGrange76114
Harrison72924
Putnam69415
Knox68610
DeKalb67411
Posey6695
Steuben5798
Miami5655
Montgomery55722
Fayette55615
White55615
Jasper5264
Greene50537
Scott50313
Decatur49339
Adams4555
Clay4266
Whitley4246
Ripley4138
Sullivan40612
Wells4045
Orange38124
Starke3787
Wabash3769
Spencer3656
Huntington3645
Franklin35925
Jennings35813
Washington3452
Randolph3318
Jefferson3275
Fulton3232
Pike31512
Carroll30513
Perry28214
Jay2756
Fountain2733
Tipton26123
Parke2152
Newton20511
Vermillion2031
Owen1991
Rush1984
Martin1930
Blackford1843
Crawford1401
Pulaski1401
Brown1283
Ohio1167
Benton1060
Union1010
Switzerland840
Warren721
Unassigned0233

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 181787

Reported Deaths: 5067
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin30590635
Cuyahoga19212671
Hamilton15890338
Montgomery9883184
Lucas8058370
Butler7856122
Summit6406260
Warren393360
Stark3605178
Mahoning3567283
Marion332149
Pickaway294646
Delaware275927
Lorain262389
Fairfield254156
Licking241065
Wood240181
Clark231654
Clermont225936
Trumbull2174134
Greene210840
Columbiana207887
Allen195873
Miami191056
Lake184757
Medina175542
Portage153067
Mercer143327
Ross130533
Wayne125968
Richland125724
Tuscarawas117822
Athens11452
Erie111453
Darke108850
Madison101314
Hancock97520
Auglaize92716
Lawrence88524
Putnam86127
Shelby85014
Geauga81950
Muskingum8174
Scioto7709
Belmont76827
Union7203
Ashtabula71348
Huron6909
Sandusky69022
Seneca57614
Preble57417
Ottawa55930
Holmes53710
Fulton4726
Henry44217
Jefferson4384
Defiance43713
Clinton42013
Jackson4197
Fayette4188
Crawford4088
Logan3923
Champaign3783
Highland3714
Ashland3705
Brown3583
Knox35215
Perry35011
Washington32423
Morrow3222
Williams3124
Hardin30913
Coshocton28612
Pike2780
Wyandot27813
Gallia27413
Guernsey2688
Van Wert2153
Meigs20512
Adams1936
Hocking1899
Carroll1887
Paulding1791
Monroe14118
Noble1120
Vinton853
Harrison763
Morgan690
Unassigned00
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