On Thursday, January 12, 2023, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled on the formal charges filed by the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications against Gibson Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey F. Meade for intemperate comments from the bench and due process violations.
The case is entitled ‘In the Matter of the Honorable Jeffrey F. Meade,’ case #22S-JD-390.
The judge was charged with violating Rules 1.1, 1.2, 2.2, 2.5, 2.6, 2.8(B), and 2.9(A) of the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct, which require:
Judges to comply with the law, including the Code of Judicial Conduct;
Judges to avoid impropriety and act at all times in a manner promoting public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity;
Judges to uphold and apply the law and to perform all judicial duties fairly and impartially;
Judges to perform judicial and administrative duties competently, diligently, and promptly;
Judges accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding the right to be heard according to law;
Judges to be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants; and
Judges are prohibited from initiating, permitting, or considering ex parte communications.
According to the court filing, Judge Meade engaged in judicial misconduct by making intemperate comments while handling a Juvenile paternity case where he exhibited impatient, undignified, and discourteous behavior with the father during the cross-examination; by holding an off-the-record, unrecorded child-in-need-of-services (Chins) hearing in which he ruled on various substantive motions; and by failing to provide all parties to those Chins proceedings with sufficient notice, an opportunity to be heard, and an opportunity to fairly participate in the hearing.
The filing states:
“From 2015 until February 2022, Respondent presided over a paternity case, In re the Paternity of H.L. During a November 2019 hearing on the parents’ cross-petitions to modify custody, as well as during a December 2020 telephonic conference, Respondent repeatedly made comments about his own divorce and custody proceedings and compared his situation with that of the litigants before him.”
The filing continues:
“During the November 2019 hearing and a hearing in May 2021, Respondent also made disparaging statements to and about the parties, including:
“This is just bullshit. I’m sorry, I’m a farm boy. I was raised—I’m older than you. I was scooping hog shit long before you, man. I’m going to tell you what, this is crap. It stinks. This kind of behavior stinks. Okay?”
“Now, I’m not playing with this. Okay? This is the 10th freaking day of this hearing. Okay? And again I’m not prejudging nothing. I’m going to hear this case out and we’ll let the attorneys do their findings. Okay? But I’m going to tell you what, you best be calling daddy up to get some money coming, I’m telling you that right now, because you have intentionally interfered with this woman’s parenting time. Okay? And it’s going to cost you a bundle. Okay?”
Judge Meade agreed that his actions violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and that his misconduct was prejudicial to the administration of justice.
A Statement of Circumstances and Conditional Agreement for Discipline was submitted by the parties which sets forth Judge Meade’s acceptance of responsibility for his misconduct and his remorse.
The Commission and Judge Meade agreed that the appropriate sanction for the latter’s misconduct is a seven-day suspension without pay.
Accordingly, the Court, upon consideration of the factual allegations, Meade’s admission of misconduct, and the parties’ conditional agreement for discipline, agreed that suspension is warranted.
The disposition reads:
“The Court therefore orders that Jeffrey F. Meade shall be suspended from the office of Judge of the Gibson Circuit Court without pay for seven (7) days commencing at 12:01 a.m. on January 30, 2023. The suspension shall terminate and the Judge shall automatically be reinstated to office at 12:01 a.m. on February 6, 2023.”
Judge Jeffrey F. Meade is a circuit court judge for Gibson County, Indiana, serving since 2007. He earned a law degree from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. His courtroom is located at 101 N. Main St., Princeton, IN 47670, and can be reached at 812-385-4885. His bio can be found on Linkedin.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.