Indiana Supreme Court declines to clarify if governor can replace AG Hill

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — The Supreme Court of the State of Indiana is denying the governor's request to clarify whether he could replace Attorney General Curtis Hill.

It comes after the court announced Hill would face a 30-day suspension which went into effect on Monday.

The courts' order denies the governor's request for clarification on what that suspension means for the officer of the attorney general.

The punishment prohibits Attorney General Curtis Hill from practicing law in Indiana during his suspension.

Governor Holcomb was asking if the punishment means Hill is not “duly licensed to practice law in Indiana,” a requirement for his position as Attorney General. If that were true, the Governor was asking for clarification on whether there would then be a vacancy for the office of Attorney General. If the court had ruled "yes" on both of those issues, the Governor could have named a successor for the remainder of Attorney General Hill’s current term.

13News reached out to the governor's office for clarification on how Holcomb with proceed and were given this response:

“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. With those two questions left unanswered, there is no further action on my part.”

The Attorney General's Office responded to decision Monday with a statement saying:

“Curtis Hill remains the duly-elected Attorney General for the state of Indiana and the work of his office will continue uninterrupted.”

Chief Deputy Aaron Negangard has assumed responsibility for the legal operations of the office during the temporary suspension.

Hill was accused of inappropriately touching women at a party celebrating the end of the legislative session in March 2018.

In it's ruling on Hill's suspension, the court wrote:

"We find, as did the hearing officer, that Respondent committed acts of misdemeanor battery, conduct that under the circumstances of this case violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 8.4(b) and 8.4(d)."

Hill released the following statement in response to the court ordered suspension:

“I accept with humility and respect the Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling of a 30-day suspension of my license with automatic reinstatement. I have directed that beginning Monday, May 18, Chief Deputy Aaron Negangard will assume responsibility for the legal operations of this office during the temporary suspension of my license until it is reinstated on Wednesday, June 17. I offer my deepest gratitude to my family, friends and the entire staff of the Office of the Attorney General. My staff has worked tirelessly and without interruption and will continue to do so on behalf of all Hoosiers.”

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