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Indiana AG under investigation by state supreme court disciplinary commission over comments about abortion provider: Report

Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita appears on Fox News on July 13, 2022, announcing an investigation into Dr. Caitlin Bernard.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) appears on the Fox News Channel on July 13, 2022. (Image via YouTube screengrab.)

The Indiana attorney general waging a public war against a doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim is under investigation by the state’s judicial branch, according to recent court filings.

Attorney General Todd Rokita, a Republican, is currently being investigated by the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, the Indiana Citizen reported, citing court filings. The information emerged from a petition filed by attorney Gene Schaerr seeking permission to represent Rokita in the Indiana Medical Board investigation into Dr. Caitlin Bernard.

In a Feb. 2 filing, Schaerr, a Washington-based lawyer, sought permission to practice temporarily in the state for the medical licensing matter and acknowledged his participation in a different case.

“I have submitted petitions to be admitted pro hac vice in the matters of Bernard v. Rokita, pending in the Marion Superior Court, and In the Matter of the July 27, 2022 Grievance Against Theodore K. Rokita, pending before the Supreme Court of Indiana Disciplinary Commission,” his declaration says (citations omitted emphasis in original).

According to the Indiana Citizen, several attorneys have filed grievances against Rokita over his comments.

Rokita’s comments about Bernard, who had told a local newspaper about providing an abortion for the young girl, launched the Indiana doctor into the national spotlight.

“I’m going to get her,” Rokita told Jesse Watters on the Fox News Channel in July. Rokita indicated that his office had proof that Bernard had violated multiple laws and regulations regarding providing abortion care to patients.

Subsequent investigations found that Bernard was not in violation of any laws, either federal or state. An Indiana judge overseeing Bernard’s lawsuit against Rokita over his subpoena of medical records found in December that Rokita violated state law and caused “irreparable harm” to Bernard’s reputation.

A spokesperson for the Indiana Supreme Court told Law&Crime in an email on Monday that grievances are confidential and that Rokita’s law license “is Active and in Good Standing with no disciplinary history.”

“Any letter of complaint (also known as a grievance) submitted to the Disciplinary Commission is confidential,” Kathryn Dolan said in the email. “Any investigation of alleged attorney misconduct is conducted by the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission. Any investigation the Disciplinary Commission conducts is confidential, and we cannot confirm or deny if an investigation is ongoing currently.”

Dolan noted that attorneys are required to cooperate with any investigation, and any attorney who fails to cooperate “may be subject to suspension from the practice of law.”

If the matter results in a formal misconduct complaint, those filings would be publicly available, Dolan noted.

Rokita’s remarks were met with criticism from multiple figures in the Indiana legal community. Lauren Robel, the former dean of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, said that Rokita’s accusations against Bernard weren’t based on evidence, and criticized him for not later retracting his comments about her that turned out to be false.

“If he can throw the entire weight of his office without consequence to attack Dr. Bernard, he can do so to target any private citizen with whom he disagrees,” Robel wrote in a letter supplementing her complaint, according to the Indiana Citizen. “This is the opposite of the rule of law.”

A retired appeals court judge and a retired Indiana congresswoman also criticized Rokita in a column in the Wall Street Journal, and a group of Indiana law professors sent a letter to Rokita in July expressing their concerns about his statements, the Indiana Citizen reported.

Representatives from Rokita’s office did not respond to Law&Crime’s request for comment in time for publication.

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