Local senior judge accused of sexual conduct with client
The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has filed disciplinary charges against Lisa Traylor-Wolff, a senior judge serving in Pulaski and Fulton counties in Indiana. Traylor-Wolff is accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a defendant she represented.
Senior judges work on a part time basis filling in for trial court judges. They are also allowed to represent clients. The charges stem from alleged misconduct while representing a client, not while serving as a judge.
The Commission alleges Traylor-Wolff had a physically intimate relationship with a 26-year-old client, S.W.
According to the statement of charges, Traylor-Wolff was appointed as S.W.’s public defender on September 6, 2011. S.W. pleaded guilty in October 2011 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison in January 2012.
In January, Traylor-Wolff was appointed S.W.’s public defender for his appeal.
In February 2012, S.W. was sent to Miami Correctional Facility. While serving his time, the statement of charges says Traylor-Wolff developed a personal relationship with S.W. She allegedly gave him art books, made cash deposits into his prison account, sent him personal emails and completed bible study with him.
In mid-May 2012, Traylor-Wolff is accused of beginning a romantic relationship and kissing S.W. She allegedly kissed him on at least three occasions and sat on his lap while kissing him in one instance.
The statement of charges alleges the conduct occurred in the attorney-client visitation rooms of the Miami Correctional Facility.
On June 15, 2012, the statement of charges alleges Traylor-Wolff and S.W. engaged in “excessive fondling with intent to sexually gratify over the clothing.”
As a result of this incident, S.W. was sanctioned with the loss of jail credit time because excessive physical contact between inmates and visitors is against facility policy.
There are three charges against Traylor-Wolff.
Count 1: Judge Traylor-Wolff violated Rule 1.8(j) of the Rules of Professional Conduct which prohibits a lawyer from having sexual relations with a client.
Count 2: Judge Traylor-Wolff violated Rule 1.7(a)(2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct which prohibit a lawyer from representing a client if there is a significant risk that the representation will be materially limited by a personal interest of the lawyer.
Count 3: Judge Traylor-Wolff violated Rule 1.2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which requires a judge to promote confidence in the integrity of the judiciary and to avoid impropriety. The Commission also alleges she violated Rule 3.1(C) of the Code of Judicial Conduct which prohibits judges from engaging in activities that would appear to undermine the judge’s independence, integrity, or impartiality.
Traylor-Wolff has 20 days to answer to the charges. After 20 days, the Indiana Supreme Court will appoint three Masters to conduct a public hearing.
The Court can dismiss the charges or can impose sanctions ranging from reprimand to permanent ban on holding judicial office in Indiana.