The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications this week admonished a Marion Superior judge for mailing a questionable re-election fundraising flyer that it says put the judiciary in a negative light and implied that justice is for sale.
Judge Rebekah Pierson-Treacy received the admonishment following an August solicitation that went to 600 attorneys and judges in the Indianapolis area about a fundraiser being held on her behalf. The flyer contained suggested contribution levels – $150 to be designated as a "Sustained" contributor, $250 to be “Affirmed,” $500 to be “So Ordered” and $1,000 for a "Favorable Ruling." While those responsible for the solicitation say it was meant as a play on words, some took issue with the language and raised concerns.
The admonishment states that although the solicitation indicated it had been paid for and authorized by the Re-Elect Judge Becky Committee, the co-chairs of the committee and treasurer never reviewed the invitation and weren’t involved in its creation. The judge and her husband, Marion County Democratic Party Chair Ed Treacy, reviewed and authorized the flyer prior to mailing, according to the admonishment.
After the legal community and media raised concerns about the invitation, the event that was scheduled for Sept. 15 at the law firm of Pence Hensel was cancelled.
An investigation by the judicial disciplinary commission found that Pierson-Treacy violated both Rule 1.2 and 4.2(A)(1) of the state’s judicial code of conduct, which require judges to act in a manner that promotes the public’s confidence in the judiciary and in a way that maintains the independence, integrity and impartiality of the third branch.
“There is no evidence the judge intended to barter rulings for contributions,” the public admonishment says. “Nonetheless, the content of the invitation presented a negative view of the judiciary. Although Judge Pierson-Treacy’s stated intent may have been to make the traditional graduated donation levels more entertaining, the injudicious language in her invitation likely gave the impression to members of the general public that the judge’s rulings could be influenced by campaign contributions.”
This public admonishment concludes the disciplinary matter and means that no judicial misconduct charges will be officially filed against Pierson-Treacy, who has been on bench since 2001.