Disciplinary commission files to unseal Rokita agreement after contradictory remarks

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The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission on Monday filed a petition asking to release a conditional agreement signed by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita after he publicly denied wrongdoing following a settlement.

The petition said Rokita’s public statements are inconsistent with what he agreed to in the conditional agreement and have caused confusion.

The agreement and related affidavit are generally confidential under court rules.

“Respondent’s actions flouted the authority of the Court, called into question the sincerity of Respondent’s assertions to the Court in his Conditional Agreement and affidavit, and caused damage to the public’s perception of the integrity and justness of the attorney discipline system,” the motion said. “In such circumstances, the extraordinary measure of publicly releasing the Conditional Agreement and accompanying affidavit is necessary to restore public faith that lawyers cannot manipulate the discipline system to obtain a desired result and then counter with a public statement disavowing the acceptance of wrongdoing.”

The history

Rokita was publicly reprimanded in November for his televised comments about the doctor who oversaw a medication abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio.

But immediately after the settlement was made public, Rokita issued a defiant statement in which he called his comments “truthful” and “factual” and attacked the news media, medical field and “cancel culture” for their handling of the case against him.

In the statement, he took no responsibility publicly for violating ethics rules for lawyers.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard performed an abortion on the girl in June 2022. Although she gave few identifying details when she told The Indianapolis Star about it, the case went national.

In July 2022, Rokita told Fox News commentator Jesse Watters that Bernard was an “abortion activist acting as a doctor—with a history of failing to report.”

In a per curiam opinion, the court’s five justices ruled that Rokita violated two of the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers. They said Rokita’s comments constituted an “extrajudicial statement” that he knew—or reasonably should’ve known—would be publicly disseminated and would prejudice related legal proceedings.

They also his statements had “no substantial purpose” other than to embarrass or burden Bernard.

In a sworn affidavit, Rokita admitted to the two violations and acknowledged he couldn’t have defended himself successfully on the charges if the matter were tried.

In exchange for those admissions, the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission agreed to dismiss a third charge: intentionally making or directing others to make public statements about the investigation before it was referred to the Medical Licensing Board — which the commission alleged was “in contravention of the duty of confidentiality required” under state law.

The court said Rokita’s “acceptance of responsibility,” cooperation during the disciplinary process and his clean disciplinary history were mitigating factors.

“But that same length of experience also ‘counsels that he should have known better’ than to conduct himself in the manner he did,” the ruling noted.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Justice Christopher Goff dissented from the public reprimand as the means of punishment because they believed it was “too lenient,” according to the opinion — pointing to Rokita’s position as attorney general and the “scope and breadth” of his misconduct.

The commission said negotiations with Rokita to voluntarily release the documents were at an impasse and that Indiana law allows the court to release otherwise confidential information under special circumstances.

“The Commission believes that the public interest will best be served by allowing public access to the Conditional Agreement and the accompanying affidavit signed by Respondent. Respondent’s public statements in his press release, particularly his remark that he “was found not to have violated anyone’s confidentiality or any law” have created confusion as to whether Respondent admitted to any misconduct and the extent of the reprimanded misconduct.”

The commission said it has received requests for the documentation from the media and believes it is in the public interest “to obtain a clearer account of what Respondent admitted to and the full extent of his reprimanded conduct.”

Since the initial settlement, several Hoosiers have filed new complaints against with Rokita alleging perjury. That has resulted in a second investigation, the Indiana Citizen reported.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that covers state government, policy and elections.

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7 thoughts on “Disciplinary commission files to unseal Rokita agreement after contradictory remarks

  1. I’d love to know if any of the three justices who agreed to the settlement that Rokita promptly ignored would … now like to maybe side with the two justices who thought Rokita deserved a more strict punishment. They should have pulled the license for Indiana’s wannabe Ken Paxton while they had the chance. Hopefully they get another soon.

  2. I certainly hope no one is surprised by the dishonesty of the man who is the Indiana Attorney General. This is a true representation of the new GOP, one singularly committed to a man whose entire lifetime of work is all about dishonesty, cheating, and ignoring the rules of a decent society. I now have a single litmus test for any GOP candidate–do they support Donald Trump and/or seek his endorsement. If so, they will never get my vote. The vast majority of GOP politicians, candidates and voters no longer represent the ideal of conservative values. They worship a man whose sole ambition is to be an all-powerful dictator (think Putin) who uses his power to accumulate wealth and stroke his own ego. They claim to be Patriots, yet will do anything and everything to bring down our Republic for their own greedy benefit.

  3. I wonder if the Supremes can reopen the case, given his clear rejection of the predicate confession. Or have another disciplinary case focused on his apparent perjury to the Court.

  4. Swampmonster. Shameful. Shiftless. Sophomoric. Vile and disgusting figure that cannot be trusted or believed and casts a dreadful shadow on the image of Indiana and the AG office. His removal from office should be the focus.

  5. all that, and yet he is immensely popular with his base, both here in Indiana and around the nation. For folks like the AGs in Texas, Kentucky, and any other currently MAGA state, Todd Rokita is a righteous dude.

    I understand the non-MAGA, anti-Rokita branch of the Indiana Republican party has been searching, with no luck for someone to run against him as AG. They can’t seem to find anyone they think can beat Rokita.

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