Court to rule next week on governor's motion in AG Hill case

The Indiana Supreme Court disciplinary commission and Attorney General Curtis Hill have responded to the governor's request for clarification from the court regarding Hill's suspension and whether it creates a vacancy in the office.

Hill was suspended after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled he violated two rules of professional conduct when he touched several women at a bar in March 2018.

Following the announcement of his suspension, Hill said he accepted the suspension and appointed his deputy to oversee the office during his suspension.

Governor Eric Holcomb then filed a motion to intervene asking the court to clarify whether Hill's suspension created a vacancy in the office, which would require the appointment of an acting AG.

The disciplinary commission filed a response to the governor's motion. It says Hill must "completely disengage from any control or authority pertaining to the Office of Attorney General."

It also stated "occupy an office" can refer to a physical location and the "office" of the Attorney General.

In similar cases, like prosecutors who are unable to perform the duties of the office, the Supreme Court appoints a replacement, but vacancies in the Attorney General's office are set out in state statutes so the commission did not render an opinion on that process.

In Hill's response to the governor's motion, he states the 30 day suspension does not create a vacancy and a replacement would not need to be appointed. He argues statutes only allow appointment in the cases of death, resignation or other circumstance that prevent the person from fulfilling their term.

He said the short interruption in his ability to carry out some, but not all, of his statutory responsibilities doesn't allow the governor to appoint a replacement.

Hill also alleges, "the Governor's position is dangerous; it could be used as a political trap." He says if any office holder's law license is suspended - even for a day- the governor could appoint his choice for the remainder of the office holder's term.

Hill also argues as a suspended attorney, he is still licensed to practice law, he just isn't authorized to practice law during the duration of the suspension.

The governor's motion as well as the disciplinary commission and Hill's responses will be considered by the court. A decision is expected next week.

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