Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Judge is Drunk, Waving her Gun Around, and Whoa!

A jury is deliberating the fate of this nice looking lady (pic) who was a newly elected Judge in the South Bend, Indiana-area, according to a report from the South Bend Tribune. In December of 2008 the Judge Jennifer Evans Koethe was at home withher husband watching football and knocking a few back, when a discussion of finances escalated into full fiasco. 

The story get's a little convoluted so I'll let Dustin Grove of WSBT-TV who wrote the report sort it out for you:    "Judge Koethe said her husband wouldn't listen to her so she walked into the bedroom and wrote a note, described as a highly personal note, telling her husband exactly how she felt about their marriage and financial issues.Defense attorney Mike Tuszynski said Koethe did not view the note as relevant to the case. 'The damage was already done,' he said. 'So whether or not anyone ever sees the note it doesn't fix, repair, or hide what happened ... The note was of no consequence in her mind.' Then she said  'I decided to take out my handgun and lay on the floor with it ... to make him pay attention. It was so stupid. I absolutely have — other than the alcohol — I have no excuse for doing it.'

On the stand, Koethe said she didn't recall asking the officer to get rid of the note, but 'if he says he did, then I believe him.'

'Did you intend to ask him (the officer) to break the law?' asked Tuszynski. 'Absolutely not,' said Koethe.

She says her husband walked in, she got up, and they talked and made up. As she went to bed though and started to fall asleep, she turned over and saw the gun. She went to put it up and that's when she says the gun went off. She says she did not pull the trigger intentionally. Her husband called 911. The wound wasn't life-threatening.

But here's where the crux of the criminal accusation comes it. A police officer says, in the hospital, Koethe asked him to get rid of that note she had written.  She said on the stand 'I'd just been elected as judge I didn't want anyone to know we were having financial issues.'"

A conviction for obstruction of justice is a career-ender for Judge Koethe.  We'll keep our Bad Lawyer eyes on this tale of marital woe compounded by alcohol, guns and bad luck.


  1. Not guilty!

    We were talking about this at 'Bucks this AM, and these genuises, my good friends were right on; they concluded that the note she asked the officer to destroy was "not material" to any of the offenses she was made to answer for, so how could it be "obstruction of justice."

  2. She's obviously too volatile and disturbed an individual to represent the best the legal system has to offer (although I'll allow that, in Indiana, she may be the best...). This does seem to be another one of those "guns + alcohol= major life setback" incidents, though. I'm not hip to the legal issues, but really--what a stupid way to end one's career. I feel sorry for her.

    1. Excuse me, what's wrong with the Indiana judicial system that makes it any worse than your home state's system? It didn't end her career either, she went on to serve a full six year term as judge. Don't feel sorry for her. :)

  3. Materiality seems like a damn good reason for the Judge who heard the case to have dismissed it before it went to the jury. Any insights into why that didnt happen ? Did Judge Koethe get removed or recalled? EE

  4. Gayle says, "This does seem to be another one of those 'guns + alcohol= major life setback' incidents..." excellent series-name, G!

    I don't have any inside info on why the Judge didn't toss the case on "materiality," other than my own personal experience which is elected jusges are not too inclined to demonstrate what might get called "favoritism" to another Judge. Many times I've been in situations where the Judge should have acted, but let something go to a jury so that the question of being reversed by an appellate court or the politics of the moment dictated inaction.

  5. Isn''t there an issue about the letter because they were married? How is the note or letter evidence of anything if they have a privilege with one another beccause they are married, I don't get it.

  6. I don't think marital "privilege" plays any role in this case, because the content of the communication was not being offered to prove the existence of a crime, instead it was the act of the Judge in asking that the document taken into possession by the officer be destroyed--that consituted the alleged act of the obstruction.

    But an interesting point, that I confess made me pause.


  7. and now in 2014 i stand before this judge. What happened?

  8. And now she's going for re-election and will preside over La Porte's Veteran's Court.

  9. Bull shit she sending ppl to jail in laporte,in ! Justice? On ankle monitor judge kurta must have got divorced!!