Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Judge Humphrey testified that Counsel for the Indiana Supreme Court advised him not to follow the Code of Judicial Conduct

Dearborn County Prosecutor F. Aaron Negangard initiated an investigation of Dan Brewington’s writings on August 24, 2009.  At that time Judge James D. Humphrey still presided over custody matters concerning Brewington’s divorce decree, where Judge Humphrey terminated all of Dan’s parenting time until Dan received a mental health evaluation to determine whether he posed a possible danger to the children, ex-wife, or Dan himself.  It was also during that time when Judge Humphrey claimed he had a handgun repaired, contacted his children’s schools (one being Hanover College), contacted a number of law enforcement agencies, purchased a home security system, received police escorts for he and his wife, and had his home monitored by the local police department; all due do the fear of harm from Dan Brewington.  Although not argued during trial, Prosecutor Negangard publicly stated that Dan Brewington threatened to commit arson against Judge Humphrey prior to Humphrey ruling on Brewington’s divorce decree.  During Dan Brewington’s trial Humphrey testified he sought the advice of Adrienne Meiring, Counsel for Judicial Qualifications Commission for the Indiana Supreme Court.  Humphrey explained Meiring was there “to help give advice to judges regarding ethical issues.”  Humphrey contacted Meiring to determine if he should continue to preside over Brewington’s case even though Humphrey claimed to fear for the lives of his family and while actively participating in Negangard’s secret investigation of Brewington’s alleged threats against Humphrey.  Humphrey testified that after discussing the matter with Adrienne Meiring, “[O]ur decision was to remain on the case because if I recuse myself some other judge would be put on the case and have to deal with the same thing.”  (Trial Transcripts, pg. 254) When asked by Prosecutor Negangard if he had waited to recuse himself at the appropriate time, Humphrey replied “I did.”  Judge Humphrey’s interpretation of “appropriate time” consisted of 10 months of continuing to preside over Brewington’s case, obstructing Dan’s ability to be heard in Humphrey’s court and obtain an evaluation, while recusing himself just a week before the June 14, 2010 hearing on the appointment of a psychiatrist to evaluate Dan.

The Indiana Judicial Canons or Code of Judicial Conduct are rules and guidelines Indiana Judges are supposed to follow.  We know this because Judge Humphrey and Negangard discuss the topic on page 324 of the grand jury transcripts:

NEGANGARD: And uh, the manner, if you could for the jury, tell them, if a judge, is there canons that judges are supposed to follow?
HUMPHREY: There is.
NEGANGARD: And what are those called?
HUMPHREY: The code of judicial conduct.

The key word in Negangard’s question appears to be “supposed.”  Rule 2.11 of the Indiana Judicial Code of Conduct reads as follows:

RULE 2.11 Disqualification (A)    A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge's impartiality* might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to the following circumstances: (1) the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.
The Commentary section of Canon 2.11 states:
[1] Under this Rule, a judge is disqualified whenever the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned, regardless of whether any of the specific provisions of paragraphs (A)(1) through (6) apply. In many jurisdictions, the term “recusal” is used interchangeably with the term “disqualification.”
[2]    A judge's obligation not to hear or decide matters in which disqualification is required applies regardless of whether a motion to disqualify is filed.

Judge Humphrey and Adrienne Meiring, Counsel to the Indiana Supreme Court, came to the conclusion that taking several preventative measures to prevent Judge Humphrey’s family from being injured or dying at the hands of Dan Brewington did not qualify as a personal bias that “might reasonably” question Judge Humphrey’s ability to remain impartial in continuing to preside over Dan Brewington’s custody proceedings.  Even if Humphrey and Meiring believed Humphrey could remain impartial, despite the fact Humphrey claimed he was actively working to prevent Brewington from abducting and/or murdering his family, Humphrey and Meiring ignored another key component listed in Comment [5] of Canon 2.11:

[5] A judge should disclose on the record information that the judge believes the parties or their lawyers might reasonably consider relevant to a possible motion for disqualification, even if the judge believes there is no basis for disqualification.

So even if Judge James D. Humphrey and Adrienne Meiring believed Humphrey could remain impartial despite Humphrey’s “fears” of Dan Brewington, the Indiana Judicial Code of Conduct states Judge Humphrey had a duty to disclose to Brewington on the record that Brewington caused him to fear for his life.  But in revisiting Judge Humphrey’s recollection of his and Adrienne Meiring’s decision, the advice of Counsel for the Indiana Supreme Court wasn’t about protecting the rights of the Dan Brewington’s children to be able to get back with their father in an unbiased Indiana Court; Humphrey testified their decision for Humphrey to remain on the case was to protect other judges from having to deal with Brewington for the time span of ten months; the time Judge Humphrey testified was appropriate for recusal.  (Trial Transcripts pg. 254.)

People should hope Judge James D. Humphrey was being less than truthful in his testimony during the trial of Dan Brewington regarding his discussions with Adrienne Meiring because it would be horrific to think the advising counsel for the Indiana Supreme Court would advise a judge to involve himself in a conspiracy to obstruct justice in a civil case in order to protect other judges from a civil litigant.  Much worse than that is the notion Judge Humphrey would remain on Brewington’s case in an effort not to disturb Negangard’s efforts in prosecuting Dan Brewington on behalf of Judge Humphrey.  This is how the Office of Judicial Qualifications of the Indiana Supreme Court advises judges in the State of Indiana; at least according to Judge Humphrey.  So by his own accounts, the decision of Judge James D. Humphrey and Adrienne Meiring was to deny Dan Brewington the ability to be reunited with his children in any timely fashion, which is abusive to Dan’s children.  In October 2009 , Judge Humphrey told Brewington he didn’t have jurisdiction to hear matters in Dan’s case while Dan was appealing Humphrey’s decision, which was blatantly false.  When Brewington retained a lawyer in March 2010, Humphrey suddenly recalled he did have jurisdiction to hear matters and set a hearing for June 14, 2010 on the approval of a psychiatrist to evaluate Dan.  On June 9, 2010, just five days prior to the hearing, the orders were filed in Judge Humphrey’s recusal from the case; the “appropriate” time for Humphrey to withdraw as decided by Humphrey and Adrienne Meiring, Counsel for Judicial Qualifications of the Indiana Supreme Court.  Humphrey and Meiring’s decision Humphrey remaining on Brewington’s case made it impossible for Dan to have an evaluator appointed until January 24, 2011.  Brewington was arrested soon after the appointment and unable to be evaluated until after his release from prison on September 5, 2013.  Ironically, during the grand jury proceedings and criminal trial Dearborn County Prosecutor F. Aaron Negangard and Dearborn County Sheriff Michael Kreinhop kept rehashing the point that Dan Brewington never went through with an evaluation in an effort to be reunited with his children; all the while knowing that Judge James D. Humphrey, upon the advice of Adrienne Meiring, continued to remain on Brewington’s case and obstruct Dan’s ability to seek an evaluation.  When pressed about the topic of whether Brewington sought the approval of an evaluator during the course of Humphrey’s involvement in the case, Humphrey and Brewington’s public defender Bryan Barrett had the following exchange (Trial Transcripts pg. 261-262):

MR. BARRETT: The prosecutor asked you about whether or not Mr. Brewington ever sought approval for a mental health evaluator pursuant to your order in the final decree. Do you recall that?
MR. BARRETT: And did he ask the court to set a hearing on that or did he submit a name?
JUDGE HUMPHREY: It seems to me that toward the end of me being on the case that something about that may have come up and I think one of the issues that had to be dealt with was whether or not I had any jurisdiction at that time to do anything because again once the record is submitted to the Court of Appeals, I'm not sure that the trial Court retained any jurisdiction at that time. And if I remember correctly counsel, I think I issued an order and said exactly that I'm not sure we have any jurisdiction to do anything with it but if counsel has any legal authority to indicate that I could that I would consider.
JUDGE HUMPHREY: I think that's how I responded to it.

The irony of the situation is throughout the course of the trial, the prosecution touted the accolades, experience, and respectability of the Honorable Judge James D. Humphrey, but when it came testifying about a subject that might be beneficial to Brewington, Humphrey’s memory and esteemed professional qualities somehow faded.  [See 10/24/2011 News Release from Indiana State Bar Association re: Humphrey receiving Outstanding Judge Award.  Article claims Humphrey goes “out of his way to check on the progress” of young attorneys and “recommends useful texts and even keeps copies available for loan,” and “makes himself available for practice tips when appropriate.”  Humphrey received this praise for providing young lawyers with advice and educational material, yet Humphrey claimed he did not know simple appellate procedure giving him the jurisdiction to allow Dan Brewington to comply with the demands of Humphrey’s own order so that Brewington could be reunited with his children.]  Not only did Humphrey claim he did not know the rules of procedure pertaining to a trial court’s jurisdiction of a case while on appeal, but he failed to remember setting the hearing on the approval of Brewington’s mental health evaluator.  Even more, Humphrey failed to recall the purpose of the hearing he scheduled and vacated as well.  [If Judge Humphrey truly believed that appealing the divorce decree stripped his trial court of jurisdiction of enforcing his own ruling, then Judge Humphrey terminated Dan Brewington’s parenting time knowing that if Brewington appealed the decision, it would be well over a year before Brewington could even begin to fulfill Humphrey’s requirements necessary for Dan to be reunited with his daughters.  In his order filed 10/13/2009, Humphrey informed Brewington he needed to seek permission from the Appellate Court for Judge Humphrey to be able to enforce the orders of his court.  In an order filed 10/23/2009, denying a contempt petition filed by Brewington’s ex-wife, Humphrey stated that Brewington’s ex-wife did not have to seek permission from the Appellate Court if she could “show authority to [Humphrey’s] Court that it retains jurisdiction to hear this matter pending outcome of the appeal.”  When Brewington hired a lawyer to file a motion, filed 3/11/2010, to approve Dr. Henry Waite MD for a psychiatric evaluation, Humphrey granted a hearing.  Humphrey, whom claims to have graduated Cum Laude from Indiana University School of Law, either alleges that he was unaware that Appellate Rule 39 gave him jurisdiction to enforce the judgment and orders of his court or Humphrey, who had presided over family court cases since 1998, was simply allowing Brewington’s children to remain fatherless while Humphrey forced non-attorney Brewington to figure out that he just had to tell Judge Humphrey Appellate Rule 39 gave the trial court jurisdiction.  Humphrey sent Brewington on a wild goose chase in researching how to inappropriately petition the Appellate Court when all Dan had to do was say, “Appellate Rule 39 gives you the authority, Your Honor.”]  If Humphrey would have stated Brewington was actively pursuing an evaluation, it would have shot holes in Prosecutor Negangard’s case and added validity to Brewington’s online criticisms of the Indiana Court System.  But by keeping quiet, Humphrey allowed the prosecution to continue to tell the jury that Dan Brewington did not care about his daughters.  In his closing statements to the grand jury, Sheriff Kreinhop even went as far to say, “I don't think, of course it's my opinion, but I don't think [Dan] wanted to really be with his children.”  

The events described in this blog only emphasize the importance of questioning the judicial system, which is exactly what landed Dan Brewington in prison for 2.5 years.  Feel free to contact ethics and disciplinary officials at the Indiana Supreme Court.  Please contact Adrienne Meiring, Counsel for Judicial Qualifications of the Indiana Supreme Court, to express any concerns about how the Judicial Qualifications Commission advises judges not to follow the Indiana Judicial Code of Conduct.  If it is determined that Adrienne Meiring did not advise Dearborn County Circuit Judge James D. Humphrey to continue presiding over a civil case involving a litigant whom Judge Humphrey claimed might try to murder Humphrey’s own family, then please encourage the State of Indiana to take the appropriate actions against James D. Humphrey for lying under oath in an attempt to bring further harm to Dan Brewington.

No comments:

Post a Comment