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October 14, 2012

PUBLIC FORUM: Voters should just say ‘no’ to Cox

One of the most important decisions confronting the people of Cass County this year is the selection of our Circuit Court judge, a position currently occupied by the Honorable Leo T. Burns. Judge Burns is opposed by Douglas Cox, former judge of the Cass Superior Court, who was first elected to that position in 1986. Unfortunately, Judge Cox proved to be a great disappointment. During his tenure as judge of the Cass Superior Court, he was taken up to the Indiana Supreme Court at least twice on writs of mandamus and prohibition because he insisted upon injecting himself into cases where he clearly had no jurisdiction.

Later, in 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that he had violated the Code of Judicial Conduct by penalizing defendants for exercising their constitutional right to a jury trial under the threat of contempt charges and jail, an unconstitutional policy he had followed since 1987, his first year in office. The Supreme Court said that Judge Cox had violated Canons 1, 2, 3B(2), 3B(9) and 3E(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which “requires judges to uphold the integrity of the judiciary, to maintain high standards of conduct, to respect and comply with the law and to act at all times in a manner which promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, to be faithful to the law, to dispose of all matters fairly, and to disqualify themselves in proceedings in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned or to disclose information which the parties might consider relevant to the issue of disqualification.”

As a result, the Supreme Court suspended Mr. Cox for 30 days without pay. Largely as a result of those proceedings, the good people of Cass County rejected Mr. Cox when he ran for re-election in 1998. When he was defeated, Mr. Cox was heard to boast, “I’ll be a judge again someday. You just wait and see.”

The individual we select as Circuit Court judge is vested with an enormous amount of power and discretion, and that position is too important to be entrusted to someone who has demonstrated a lack of judicial temperament and an utter disregard for the fundamental principles of fairness and due process enshrined in our Constitution. Judge Burns has faithfully executed his responsibilities as Circuit Court judge, and he deserves your vote. Douglas Cox does not.

- Raymond Bowyer, Walton

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