Indiana’s Supreme Court filed disciplinary charges against the New Haven City Court and its Judge Geoff Robison.
According to the complaint, Robison had been deciding cases against state law infractions, such as speeding, and offering deferrals, in addition to processing city ordinance violations.
However, Indiana law requires state law infraction cases be handled in a court where a prosecuting attorney is practicing and Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards has not staffed the New Haven City Court for about three years.
Robison, who is not an attorney, declined to comment on the charges when reached by phone Friday afternoon.
According to court documents, since April 2015 until the filing of the charges, Robison processed more than 1,800 infractions and a number of deferrals and juvenile cases. In the absence of Richards or her deputies in his courtroom, Robison used a stamp with Richards’ signature on it to sign court documents.
In May 2017, Richards wrote a letter to the New Haven City Court, demanding Robison stop using her signature stamp for deferalls and reiterating that the Allen County Prosecutor's Office did not authorize the filing or processing of infraction tickets.
She then sent a staff member over to the New Haven City Court building to retrieve the stamp.
But it appears infraction tickets were continued to be processed, with more than 200 infractions were filed in 2017 and 2018, according to the complaint.
He is charged with violating the code of judicial conduct:
- By filing the infraction cases without the authorization of the prosecutor.
- By permitting juveniles to resolve infraction cases through deferal when it was not permitted by law,.
- Allowing individuals to be placed into the infraction deferral program on tickets after April 14, 2015 without the consent of the prosecutor
- By dismissing state infractions, the court accepted partial payments with no adjudication.
Robison has 20 days to respond to the charges. If the state’s Supreme Court decides misconduct occurred, Robison could face a fine or other sanctions.
Under Indiana law, city or town courts are created by ordinance, and predominantly handle traffic matters. Because they are not "courts of record," any appeal of any ruling in a city or town court must go to the superior or circuit courts, and be treated as if the case had never been filed before, according to the Indiana courts website.
In other communities where county prosecutors have ceased to staff city or town courts, the courts have ceased to function.
Indiana law permits those who are not attorneys to serve as city or town court judges. Prior to serving on the New Haven City Court, Robison had served as the New Haven Chief of Police.