INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
The Indiana Supreme Court sidestepped giving its opinion Monday on whether
the state attorney general can remain in office even while serving a 30-day
law license suspension for groping a state legislator and three other women.
The lack of court
action leaves in legal limbo the question of whether Republican Attorney
General Curtis Hill can remain in his elected position as state government’s
top lawyer under the suspension that took effect Monday. Republican Gov.
Eric Holcomb, however, signaled no intention that he would try to force Hill
from office, despite calling for Hill’s resignation nearly two years ago.
State law requires
the attorney general to be “duly licensed to practice law in Indiana,” but
it doesn’t specify whether the person can continue serving under a temporary
The Supreme Court,
however, refused to consider a request from Holcomb last week for a ruling
that would settle that question. The court said Holcomb’s request was
outside the scope of the disciplinary case against Hill.
generally should not issue advisory opinions ... or decide issues if there
is no case or controversy before them,” the order said.
Hill, 59, has
denied doing anything wrong at a March 2018 party where the groping
occurred, but a unanimous Supreme Court decision last week said the state’s
attorney disciplinary commission “proved by clear and convincing evidence
that (Hill) committed the criminal act of battery.”
Hill has rebuffed
the calls from Holcomb and other state Republican leaders for his
resignation and he’s seeking reelection this year.
appoint a new attorney general if Hill was found ineligible to remain in
“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 a statement. “With those two questions left
unanswered, there is no further action on my part.”
general’s office said in a one-sentence statement: “Curtis Hill remains the
duly-elected Attorney General for the state of Indiana and the work of his
office will continue uninterrupted.”
fate could be decided by Republican state convention delegates, who will
pick the attorney general nominee this summer. Some Republicans argue
nominating Hill puts the GOP’s hold on the office in jeopardy even though
Democrats last won a statewide election in 2012.
Mara Candelaria Reardon testified during an October hearing on the groping
allegations that Hill, smelling of alcohol and with glassy eyes, was holding
a drink in his right hand and put his left hand on her shoulder, then slid
his hand down her dress to clench her buttocks. “A squeeze, a firm grasp,”
legislative staffers - ages 23 to 26 at the time - testified Hill
inappropriately touched their backs or buttocks and made unwelcomed sexual
comments during the party.
Hill last week
designated his chief deputy, Aaron Negangard, to oversee the attorney
general’s office until his suspension ends June 17. Negangard is the former
prosecutor for Dearborn and Ohio counties in southeastern Indiana and joined
the attorney general’s office with Hill in early 2017.