Indiana attorney general argues suspension doesn’t oust him

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Lawyers for Indiana’s attorney general argued Friday that he has the legal right to remain in office even while serving a 30-day suspension of his law license for groping a state legislator and three other women.

The arguments filed with the state Supreme Court come after Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb asked the justices earlier this week whether GOP Attorney General Curtis Hill loses his elected position as state government’s top lawyer when his law license suspension takes effect Monday.

State law requires the attorney general to be “duly licensed to practice law in Indiana,” but it doesn’t specify whether the person can continue serving under a temporary suspension.

Hill’s personal lawyers maintain the Supreme Court should apply its past practice of allowing the return of elected county prosecutors to those positions after serving misconduct suspensions.

“This court has limited vacancy in office to circumstances where the officeholder is no longer able to carry out the duties of the office until his or her term expires by reason of death, resignation, or removal,” Hill’s lawyers wrote. “A temporary incapacity does not fall within those categories.”

Hill, a Republican, has rebuffed calls from Holcomb and other state GOP leaders for his resignation and he’s seeking reelection this year. Hill has designated his chief deputy to oversee the attorney general’s office until his suspension ends June 17.

Holcomb would appoint a new attorney general if Hill were to be ruled ineligible to remain in office.

The Supreme Court is likely to release a decision next week, court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan said.

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