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February 25, 2013

Cass public defender Lisa Traylor-Wolff accused of 'inappropriate relationship' with defendant

Faces disciplinary action by the Indiana Commissioner on Judicial Qualifications

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has filed disciplinary charges against Lisa Traylor-Wolff, a senior judge serving in Pulaski and Fulton Counties and a public defender in Cass County. The charges stem from allegations that Judge Traylor-Wolff had an inappropriate relationship with a criminal defendant she represented, according to a press release from the Indiana Supreme Court.

The charges are filed in the Appellate Clerk’s Office in Indianapolis by the Commission on Judicial Qualifications. The Commission charges that Judge Traylor-Wolff violated the Code of Conduct. The charges are allegations — only the five members of the Supreme Court can determine what, if any, allegations are true.

The commission is alleging Judge Traylor-Wolff violated conduct standards that apply to all judges, including senior judges. Senior judges work on a part-time basis filling-in for trial court judges. These part-time judges, who are attorneys, are also permitted to represent clients. Full-time judges are not allowed to represent anyone in court. The charges against Judge Traylor-Wolff stem from allegations she committed misconduct while representing a client, not while serving as a judge. The Commission has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute claims against senior judges.

The charges center on allegations that Judge Traylor-Wolff had a physically intimate relationship with a 26-year-old client that she represented. Traylor-Wolff was appointed to represent a defendant on felony charges. The defendant was eventually convicted and sentenced to the Department of Correction. Traylor-Wolff continued representing the client on appeal. The commission alleges she began a romantic relationship with the client while representing him. The Commission also alleges inappropriate conduct occurred when Traylor-Wolff and the client were in an attorney-client visitation room at the Miami Correctional Facility.

Traylor-Wolff, who did not ask to be recertified as a senior judge in 2013, faces a total of three charges of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct, including the following allegations:

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