Fremont Town Judge Chastised

FREMONT, Ind. (WOWO): A Steuben County Judge has been reprimanded.



The Indiana Commission of Judicial Qualifications has issued a Public Admonition to Judge Martha Hagerty. She's the Fremont Town Court Judge. In a statement, the commission says judge did not act impartially or independently.



The commission has issued formal disciplinary charges for assuming the role of prosecutor as well as judge. The commission notes its the second time in three years she's been admonished.



The commission says it would have pursued stronger actions, but Hagerty is set to retire this year.



Here's the press release from Indiana Commission of Judicial Qualifications



Public Admonition of Fremont Town Court Judge



The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has issued a Public Admonition to Fremont Town Court Judge Martha C. Hagerty. The Admonition is the result of Judge Hagerty assuming the role of prosecutor, permitting traffic ticket deferral payments to be sent directly to the court (rather than to the prosecutor) and engaging inex parte communication (speaking with only one side of a case).

The Commission determined that formal disciplinary charges are warranted against Judge Hagerty and notes the 2012 Public Admonition she received for similar conduct. However, rather than filing misconduct charges, the Commission is issuing a second Admonition. Judge Hagerty admits her actions violated the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct; she took corrective action and agreed she would not serve as a judge after retiring later this year. The admonition states, “the Commission would have been inclined to pursue a stronger course of action” had the circumstances been different. 

Details of the situation can be found in the Admonition. Briefly, the Admonition stems from an August 2014 case where Judge Hagerty improperly communicated with one side in a speeding ticket case, which violates Rule 2.9(A) of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Also, rather than acting as an impartial decision-maker, Judge Hagerty offered traffic deferral agreements in violation of Rule 1.2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires judges to promote confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, and Rule 2.2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires a judge to uphold and apply the law and perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.

The seven-member Commission on Judicial Qualifications investigates alleged ethical misconduct by judges. The Court gives the Commission discretion to issue an Admonition instead of filing formal charges against a judge when it determines an Admonition sufficiently addresses the misconduct and the judge consents to that resolution. The official censure from the Commission, the Public Admonition, is kept on file with the Commission and is posted online at courts.in.gov/jud-qual/2377.htm.