Legal Ethics

Judge Rapped for 'Injudicious' Public Comments About Parking in Handicapped Space Without Placard

An Indiana municipal judge has been admonished by a state disciplinary agency for comments he made to a reporter about having parked in a handicapped spot.

Although Judge Charles Hunter was not formally charged with an ethics violation, he agreed to the written criticism of his conduct, explains the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications in its public admonition (PDF) today.

The situation arose from a complaint by a motorist concerning Hunter’s adjudication of a handicapped parking ticket in Beech Grove City Court in Marion County, explains the Indianapolis Star.

Robert Bryan, whose wife, Charity, uses a wheelchair, was ticketed for parking in a handicapped space without displaying a placard. The couple contends that their placard fell out of sight on the day in question, but Hunter upheld the $125 ticket.

A few days later, when a local television reporter asked the judge, who is in his late 80s and was using a “transport chair” himself at the time, why no placard was displayed on his car, while it was parking in a handicapped space, Hunter “chuckled” and said “I didn’t get a ticket, did I?” the commission states. Hunter’s son then retrieved the judge’s handicapped parking placard from the vehicle’s visor and put it on display.

When the reporter followed up by asking him, “So it’s just their bad luck for having gotten a ticket?” the judge agreed that he guessed so.

“Judge Hunter acknowledges that he violated Rule 1.2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which requires judges to act at all times in a manner that promotes the public’s confidence in the judiciary and to avoid the appearance of impropriety,” the admonishment states. “The commission members believe it is important to stress that Judge Hunter is admonished because of the injudicious nature of his public comments.”

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