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Rokita faces new complaint over reprimand comments

Rokita faces new disciplinary complaint

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A former head of the state’s disciplinary commission on Thursday said Attorney General Todd Rokita’s comments about a reprimand might put him at risk of stronger punishment.

Shortly after the Indiana Supreme Court reprimanded Rokita on Nov. 2 for his public comments about Dr. Caitlin Bernard, two lawyers filed new grievances with the Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission over the statement Rokita made about the court’s action.

In separate filings, Paula Cardoza-Jones and William Groth said Rokita lied when he said in his statement, “I deny and was not found to have violated anyone’s confidentiality or any laws” and went on to say his comments about Bernard were factual.

They said his latest statement directly contradicts Rokita’s affidavit to the Supreme Court, given under oath under penalty of perjury. In the reprimand document, the court’s justices wrote that Rokita “admits these two rule violations and acknowledges that he could not successfully defend himself on these two charges if this matter were tried.”

The attorneys also took issue with the overall wording and tone of Rokita’s post-reprimand statement. The justices wrote that Rokita’s “acceptance of responsibility is a mitigating factor, as are his cooperation with the disciplinary process and his lack of prior discipline over a lengthy career. But that same length of experience also ‘counsels that he should have known better’ than to conduct himself in the manner he did.”

In his public statement, Rokita said, among other things, “These liberal activists would like to cancel your vote because they hate the fact I stand up for liberty.”

Cardoza-Jones and Groth said this undercuts the court’s assessment that Rokita accepted responsibility for his actions.

Don Lundberg, a former executive director of the disciplinary commission, told News 8 although the commission has not initiated any formal proceedings based on the new grievances, the fact that it has asked Rokita to respond to them rather than dismissing them out of hand — the most common fate of such filings — shows they’re being taken seriously. He said it’s up to the commission whether to open a formal investigation. Since Rokita already has been reprimanded, Lundberg said it’s possible any further disciplinary action against him would involve suspending his law license. He noted two of the court’s five justices, including Chief Justice Loretta Rush, dissented from the reprimand because they believed Rokita deserved harsher punishment due to his position and the nature of his comments.

“The Court should look askance at a lawyer, particularly a public lawyer, who issues statements of this sort,” he said.

Lundberg was one of several attorneys who filed grievances over Rokita’s original comments about Bernard but he was not involved in this new effort.

Lundberg said Rokita as attorney general represents the epitome of the profession in Indiana and represents all of the state’s citizens, so his comments about and attitude toward the state’s highest court warrant special attention and care.

Rokita’s office released a statement about the new filings.

“We cannot comment on something we have not seen. However, we can say that Attorney General Todd Rokita cooperated with the investigation the entire time. He also took the rare action of admitting two of the charges in his initial court filing instead of making the usual perfunctory denials. He publicly stated that he has learned from the situation and—like everyone— can always do better. And he certainly didn’t lie about anything.

“This one-way street of self-serving accusations made by attorneys with one-sided voting records and giving histories is now being built into a highway of oncoming baseless claims leading into an election year – all over a 16-word television response made after a doctor was found to be talking about her patient PUBLICLY (emphasis original) at a political rally on the heels of the repeal of Roe v. Wade.

“If the rally and the patient’s condition concerned anything other than the politically charged issue of abortion, the Left would not be giving any of this a second self-interested thought.

“Attorney General Rokita is the only one who stepped up to protect a 10-year old’s medical privacy after she was used by the very same kind of people who continue to complain about him now. He will not be deterred in his work.”

Office of Indiana Attorney General