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Indiana Supreme Court denies governor's request for clarification

Curtis Hill.JPG
Posted at 4:18 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 19:49:46-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Supreme Court has denied a request for clarification from Gov. Eric Holcomb pertaining to the suspension of Attorney General Curtis Hill.

Hill's law license is suspended for 30 days beginning Monday stemming from violating two Indiana rules of professional conduct due to sexual misconduct allegations from an Indianapolis party in 2018.

Last week, the governor filed an emergency motion to intervene in the case seeking to clarify whether Hill is "duly licensed to practice law" in Indiana, which is one of the qualifications to serve as attorney general and if Hill is not whether that creates a vacancy that Holcomb would need to fill.

"These issues were not litigated by the parties and are extraneous to our disciplinary opinion, making intervention inappropriate," Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote in the unanimous order filed on Monday.

The order also cited a number of cases that set precedent that courts should not issue advisory opinions.

"These principles, too, counsel for judicial restraint and against allowing intervention," Rush wrote.

In Holcomb's request he noted that Indiana law is not clear about what happens if the attorney general is not duly authorized to practice law.

Hill announced last week taht his chief deputy would serve as his replacement until his license is reinstated, however, Holcomb has also argued that Indiana law is not expressly allowed under Indiana law.

If there is a vacancy in state office, the governor fills the role but whether this scenario counts as a vacancy is unclear.

WRTV reached out to the governor's office for comment on the supreme court's order.

"With the Supreme Court's decision to suspend the Attorney General for 30 days, my judicial inquiry was to, one, determine if that suspension created a vacancy and, two, if so, what was my constitutional and statutory responsibility to fill that vacancy," Holcomb said in an emailed statement. "With those two questions left unanswered, there is no further action on my part."