Indiana Supreme Court suspends Madison County Judge Norrick for 45 days without pay

May 17—ANDERSON — The Indiana Supreme Court has suspended Madison County Division 5 Judge Scott Norrick for 45 days.

The Supreme Court ruling was issued Friday, and the suspension will begin June 3.

One of the state high court's justices objected to the agreement, saying more severe discipline was warranted.

The ruling emphasized the seriousness of Norrick's misconduct.

"Suspensions longer than 30 days reflect extremely serious judicial misconduct, just shy of what might warrant removal from office," the ruling states.

"Misconduct like Respondent's has led to the most severe sanction the Court can impose — removal of a sitting judge and a permanent ban on judicial office."

During Norrick's 45-day suspension, any of the other five county judges or the magistrate can preside in Circuit Court 5.

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications filed disciplinary charges against Norrick in February.

The complaint states that — from Jan. 1, 2021, through March 31, 2023 — 40 criminal cases in his court were missing entries and orders.

Norrick was elected judge in 2020.

The complaint states that Norrick was informed by the other judges and the Madison County Prosecutor's Office about concerns caused by delays in inputting case entries and orders in criminal cases. Norrick was made aware that his court reporter at the time was four to five weeks behind on completing case entries, according to the complaint.

Another finding by the commission revealed that an order signed electronically by Norrick granted a parent custody of a child without notification to the other parent. This order was made without a required court hearing, the commission said, and did not comply with the requirements of the Indiana Trial Rule of Procedure.

Norrick reported that his staff erred in affixing his signature electronically to the modification order. He vacated the ruling the next day.

Another charge alleges that Norrick failed to process entries and orders for cases involving Landmark Accounts, which he represented while in private practice.

Because the court staff continued to issue numerous court orders and case entries using Norrick's signature, it left the impression that he didn't disqualify himself from cases involving Landmark and also the impression that he presided over Landmark cases where there was a conflict of interest.

In a response, Norrick said he directed the court staff to transfer any Landmark Accounts cases or those involving his son to the master commissioner or magistrate.

"Respondent's (Norrick) actions and inactions, which began the day he assumed office, damaged the administration of justice and public trust in the judiciary," the ruling states.

"They also caused individual harm to dozens of alleged victims, witnesses and criminal defendants whose cases were dismissed or delayed because Respondent, through his staff, failed to update warrants, set trial dates, and reflect the outcome of hearings."

The ruling notes that Norrick cooperated with the commission, accepted responsibility for his misconduct and embraced efforts for additional training to prevent such transgressions from recurring.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.