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Attorney general faces potential suspension of law license

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Attorney general faces potential suspension of law license

Attorney General Curtis Hill could face a two-year suspension of his license to practice law over allegations that he drunkenly groping four women in a bar last year.

The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission filed documents Monday calling for the suspension of Hill’s license without automatic reinstatement, stating his actions “cannot be brushed off as simply boorish behavior or overlooked as a misunderstanding of intent.”

If the Supreme Court agrees and suspends Hill’s license, it would put in jeopardy not only Hill’s re-election campaign in 2020, but his ability to remain as attorney general at all. Indiana law requires that the attorney general must be “duly licensed to practice law in Indiana.”

Hill has repeatedly denied the allegations and resisted calls for resignation from Republican party leaders, including Gov. Eric Holcomb.

“I can’t imagine he would be able to continue as attorney general if his law license is suspended for two years,” said Allison Martin, clinical professor of law and legal ethics expert at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.

The recommendation by the Disciplinary Commission comes almost two months after Hill’s four-day disciplinary hearing. The attorney general is accused of ethical violations over allegations he made unwanted contact and sexual advancements to four women––one state representative and three Statehouse staffers––at an Indianapolis bar after the end of the 2018 legislative session.

The commission concluded in its report that Hill shows a “lack of remorse,” and his actions were “deliberate,” “intentional” and established “a lack of restraint.” The Commission also said in the report that the events were “not the result of a one night of overindulgence but fit into a pattern of sexually inappropriate behavior.”

As attorney general, the commission stated, Hill “should be seeking to protect victims of sexual assault, not creating them or blaming them.”

In response, Hill’s lawyers are calling for a dismissal of the disciplinary case, saying the party that night was crowded.

“In such environments, there tends to be some degree of physical contact between individuals,” they wrote. “The amount of physical contact particular person is comfortable with is highly variable from person to person.”

Hill’s attorneys also said the commission has no reason to call for suspension because the alleged criminal contact has “nothing to do with the practice of law,” and a special prosecutor appointed to look into the case declined to file criminal charges last year.

The Disciplinary Commission, though, said the allegations do reflect adversely on Hill’s “honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness of a lawyer,” and harm public perception of him.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby presided over the hearing, and she will determine a recommendation for a discipline, if any, to the Indiana Supreme Court. No timeline for the Supreme Court to make its decision has been released.

Emily Ketterer is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

 

TheStatehouseFile.com is a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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