Letter: Judge Hughes’ experience is more valuable than endorsements

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Editor,

In reading Tuesday’s Current, I was pleased to see that citizens are taking interest in the upcoming primary on May 6 – in particular, the primary election for Hamilton County Superior Court 3 between 25-year incumbent Judge William Hughes and current Carmel City Court Judge Brian Poindexter. I believe Judge Poindexter has been on the bench for about 5 years. The jurisdictions of the two courts are very different. Superior Court 3 is a county court in which the cases are approximately 75 percent civil and 25 percent criminal. Carmel City Court is primarily a misdemeanor and traffic court for the City of Carmel. In her letter to the editor, Karin Maloney Anderson indicates that she was doing research on the election and had some unanswered questions and concerns about this judicial primary. As an attorney who has spent nearly 36 years practicing criminal law and is well aware of Judge Hughes’ judicial reputation, I thought a response to Anderson’s inquiries was warranted. Anderson commented on what she perceived to be Judge Hughes’ failure to publicly disclose his conviction for a misdemeanor in North Carolina. She is incorrect. The record is clear that Judge Hughes was very timely in disclosing this incident to both the public and judicial authorities. Judge Hughes was stopped and cited for driving while impaired and driving left of center on October 27, 2010, while on vacation. The very next day Judge Hughes reported this incident to the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission. On November 1, 2010, Judge Hughes personally issued a press release disclosing the incident to the public. He expressed his regret for what happened and publicly apologized. Judge Hughes then pled guilty to reckless driving on April 18, 2011, and thus, was convicted upon his own admission. He was disciplined by the Indiana Supreme Court on May 27, 2011 when it issued a public reprimand. Thus, Judge Hughes publicized his own transgression and fully accepted responsibility and culpability for his failure. In my opinion, Judge Hughes could not have been more forthcoming and personally responsible in dealing with this incident. Anderson also suggests that the lack endorsements by police organizations like the ones given to Brian Poindexter and not given to Judge Hughes should matter. We all appreciate the job our local police do in safeguarding the community. However, I do not believe such endorsements are relevant to who will be the best judge. We all want our judges to be fair and impartial to all who come before them, whether they be ordinary citizens or public servants. In other words, none of us want to walk into a courtroom feeling like someone in the courtroom has an edge with the judge. We expect and count on our judges to be fair and unbiased in deciding cases no matter who the parties or witnesses are. In my opinion, Judge Hughes exemplifies the impartiality and fairness we seek from our judges. He has done this throughout his 25 years of service as a judge for all the citizens of Hamilton County. I believe this is the most important endorsement for a judge and is most indicative of why Judge Hughes is the most qualified candidate for judge of Hamilton County Superior Court 3. In summary, I believe that Judge Hughes was extremely candid about his past transgression and accepted full responsibility for his actions. Judge Hughes’ 25 years as a fair and impartial judge in the cases coming before him during that quarter of a century of service is more important than any endorsement.

Brent Westerfeld, 46032

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