IN Brief

Indiana Supreme Court releases disciplinary agreement connected to Rokita reprimand

By: - February 1, 2024 4:42 pm

Indiana Supreme Court justices agreed to unseal the documents from Attorney General Todd Rokita’s disciplinary case after a request from the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission. (Courtesy Indiana Attorney General's Office)

The Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday unsealed the conditional disciplinary agreement from the public reprimand of Attorney General Todd Rokita.

Rokita was reprimanded late last year for his televised comments about Indianapolis doctor Caitlin Bernard, who oversaw a medication abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio in 2022.

Bernard, an OB-GYN, was later disciplined before the Medical Licensing Board for discussing the procedure publicly.

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Note_ Confidential Envelope Plac

 

The justices agreed to unseal the documents from Rokita’s case after a request from the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission. 

Many of the filings and decisions of the commission are private, unless the Indiana Supreme Court decides it would be in the public interest to publicize them.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush said in the court order that Rokita “did not object” to the agreement’s release. A majority of justices voted in favor of unsealing the agreement, though their individual votes are not listed in the order.

Rokita tweeted Thursday evening that, “The Supreme Court Order closed the case. The Conditional Agreement and the Affidavit are part of the record, and the Final Order has been entered. Nothing I said since the Final Order was entered contradicts those documents. Our office looks forward to continuing our work for regular, everyday Hoosiers – like protecting the 2nd Amendment, keeping the convicted criminals behind bars, protecting patient privacy and securing over $1 billion for Hoosier taxpayers.”

Background on discipline

In an interview with Fox News commentator Jesse Watters, Rokita called Bernard an “activist acting as a doctor” and said his office would be investigating her conduct.

In the November split-decision and public reprimand, state Supreme Court justices found he had violated two of the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers:

  • They said Rokita’s comments constituted an “extrajudicial statement” that he knew — or reasonably should have known — would be publicly disseminated and would prejudice related legal proceedings.
  • They also said his statements had “no substantial purpose” other than to embarrass or burden Dr. Caitlin Bernard.

Rokita and the commission agreed to the discipline in the conditional agreement. In a sworn affidavit, Rokita admitted to the two violations and acknowledged he couldn’t have defended himself successfully on the charges if the matter were tried.

The disciplinary agreement released Thursday indicates the parties disputed, however, over a third charge — engaging in conduct “that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”

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Rokita and the commission ultimately agreed that a trial on the merits of that count “would not likely result in a different sanction than the already agreed to” in the other two counts. As such, the commission agreed to dismiss the charge in exchange for “admission to misconduct” on the others.

Rokita’s punishment included a public reprimand and $250 in court costs.

The same day the reprimand was handed down, Rokita shared a lengthy and unrepentant statement, defending his “true” remarks in which he attacked the news media, medical field and “cancel culture.”

Shortly after, the disciplinary commission filed to unseal Rokita’s conditional agreement, saying, Rokita’s statement was inconsistent with what he agreed to in the conditional agreement.

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Casey Smith
Casey Smith

A lifelong Hoosier, Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University, where she now serves as an instructor of journalism.

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