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AG Rokita reprimanded for misconduct, calls investigation campaign by 'cancel culture establishment'

Attorney General Todd Rokita waives while being acknowledge during a speech in the Indiana General Assembly.
Brandon Smith
/
IPB News
The state Supreme Court’s opinion said Attorney General Todd Rokita signed a sworn affidavit, made under penalty of perjury, admitting to misconduct and acknowledged “he could not successfully defend himself” if the matter were tried.

The Indiana Supreme Court said, in an opinion issued Thursday, Attorney General Todd Rokita violated attorney professional conduct rules in his remarks about Dr. Caitlin Bernard – who provided abortion care to a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim.

In a statement following the opinion, Rokita said he admitted to the misconduct to “save a lot of taxpayer money and distraction.”

The investigation stems from remarks Rokita made in July 2022 on Fox News, where he called Bernard an “abortion activist acting as a doctor — with a history of failing to report.” No such history exists.

The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission investigation into Rokita was filed in September.

The state Supreme Court’s opinion said Rokita admitted to violating two rules that prohibit:

  • “Making an extrajudicial statement that a lawyer participating in the litigation or investigation of a matter knows or reasonably should know will be publicly disseminated and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter”
  • “Using means in representing a client that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person”

The state Supreme Court’s opinion said Rokita signed a sworn affidavit, made under penalty of perjury, admitting to misconduct and acknowledged “he could not successfully defend himself” if the matter were tried.

However, in a statement, Rokita said he admitted to the misconduct to “save a lot of taxpayer money and distraction, which is also very important to me.” He also said, “In order to resolve this, I was required to sign an affidavit without any modifications.”

In a nearly 700-word statement, Rokita called his remarks on Fox News “a truthful 16-word answer” and the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission’s investigation a “campaign” of the “cancel culture establishment.”

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The Indiana Supreme Court called Rokita’s admission of misconduct and cooperation with the disciplinary process “a mitigating factor” when deciding if a public reprimand was appropriate.

It agreed to a confidential conditional agreement – except Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Justice Christopher Goff. Rush and Goff rejected the agreement, “believing the discipline to be too lenient based on” Rokita’s position as attorney general and the scope of the admitted misconduct.

In addition to the public reprimand, Rokita was ordered by the court to pay a $250 fee.

Lauren is our digital editor. Contact her at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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Lauren is the digital editor for our statewide collaboration, and is based in Indianapolis at WFYI. Since starting for IPB News in 2016, she's covered everything from protests and COVID-19 to esports and policy. She's a proud Ball State University alumna and grew up on the west side of Indianapolis.