The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 2:02 pm

Holcomb seeks high court clarity on Hill's suspension

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb filed an emergency motion with the Indiana Supreme Court to seek clarification on whether Attorney General Curtis Hill's law suspension creates a vacancy in the office. 

The move came about 24 hours after the court suspended Hill for 30 days from the practice of law for committing battery against four women at a bar in March 2018. He groped a legislator and three staffers. 

“Given that the Governor has a duty under both the Indiana Constitution and the Indiana Code to appoint a successor should a vacancy occur in any state office, the Governor has a strong interest in determining whether the suspension of an Attorney General's law license, for any period of time, creates a vacancy and obligates him to name a new person to serve as the Attorney General for the remainder of the current term,” the motion said. 

State law says “the attorney general shall be a citizen of and duly licensed to practice law in Indiana” but the law is silent on what happens during a suspension of that law license. 

It has never happened before and Senate Republicans blocked an effort in March to clarify the law. 

“The Office of the Attorney General is of great importance to the State of Indiana and its citizens, with the Attorney General being the chief law enforcement officer for Indiana, and, therefore, the clarifications being asked of this Court are necessary for the Governor to fulfill his constitutional and statutory obligations,” the motion said. 

Holcomb's filing listed duties of the office including defending suits against the state; representing the state in criminal appeals and more. 

“Any person serving as the Attorney General who is suspended from the practice of law cannot perform any of the above-listed statutory obligations, because an attorney who has been suspended from the practice of law is expressly forbidden from providing legal services of any kind while the attorney's law license is suspended,” the filing said. 

Hill on Monday appointed his deputy to run the office starting May 18 through June 17. He did not immediately respond to the Holcomb motion.

This story has been corrected.

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