County judge offers apology following state admonition for foul comments


Judge D.J. Davis, Hancock County Superior Court 1, apologizes for statement made to community member while on medical leave in June 2022 following admonition from state officials.

HANCOCK COUNTY — Hancock County Superior Court judge D.J. Davis said he takes full responsibility for comments he made using profanity surrounding an incident involving the arrest of his son in June of 2022. The comments by Davis made to a neighbor at his son’s residence led to a public admonition by state officials for misconduct. Davis acknowledges he acted in a way many parents might if faced with a similar situation, yet has promised he will not ever do so again.

Davis, who released an apology statement to the Daily Reporter late last week noted he wanted to say he was sorry to the people of Hancock County for comments referenced in a public admonition from the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications which was recently released to the media.

“This incident occurred over a year ago, during the time when I was on medical leave from the bench,” Davis said in the statement. “I had just completed my second back surgery in three weeks and had taken several legally prescribed narcotics to manage my pain.”

Davis noted in the statement, he acted appropriately with law enforcement after he arrived at his son’s marital residence and acknowledged he knew his son had been arrested and had left the scene. Video from the scene, which the Daily Reporter has watched, showed the problem arose when Davis shouted back vulgar comments towards a neighbor who had yelled out at Davis concerning his son’s situation.

“My medications affected my judgment when I interacted with a third party,” Davis said in the statement. “While it does not excuse my behavior, I have not taken those medications since August of last year.”

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications issued a public admonition of Davis on Monday, July 3 for his behavior. Officials noted in their release Davis cooperated with the investigation, acknowledged he violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and apologized for making statements unbecoming of a judicial officer.

The Commission admonished Davis for the inappropriate public comments made in June 2022 during a police department investigation concerning his son. Davis’ inappropriate comments were directed towards a person at a private residence while police were present, the report stated. The behavior was a violation of Rule 1.2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, officials said.

On June 21, 2022, police officers from the Greenfield Police Department, GPD, were dispatched to the marital residence of Davis’ son in the 10 block of Songbird Court, Greenfield. They had been called to supervise the removal of personal property from the home by the son’s wife. Davis came to the residence after his wife telephoned to request his presence, officials said.

Upon arrival, Davis interacted with several GPD officers but did not interfere with their duties. Davis did, however, respond to comments made by a third party at the scene concerning his son’s marriage with injudicious remarks, using expletives.

Specifically, Davis said, “Why don’t you be a b***h, you don’t know what the f*** is going on here.” He then added, “you don’t know what’s going on, shut up, you don’t have a clue.”

Davis made these statements when he was on the front lawn of the residence in an area where others could and did overhear his remarks. Additionally, Davis’ comments were captured on the GPD officers’ body cameras.

The admonishment noted, just prior to the incident, Davis had taken several legally prescribed narcotics to manage pain resulting from his second back surgery in three weeks. The Commission however noted judges need to be cautious about appearing at emotionally charged scenes, especially if there are any challenges to them maintaining appropriate demeanor.

The seven-member Commission who investigates alleged ethical misconduct by judges determined formal disciplinary charges were warranted. However, Supreme Court rules allow for the judicial officer and the Commission to agree to a public admonition, instead of filing charges. Davis will not be formally charged with ethical misconduct.

In his statement, Davis went on to say he assures everyone in the community that something like the incident will never happen again.

“I take full responsibility for my comments,” Davis said.

Davis went on to thank the Commission on Judicial Qualifications for not filing a formal charge against him in the matter.

“I plan to make no further comments about this incident,” Davis said.

As for the arrest of Davis’s son who was originally charged with disorderly conduct on June 21, 2022, the case was assigned to Hancock County Superior Court 2. However, it was reassigned to a special prosecutor in Johnson County who dismissed the case on June 28, 2022.

Prosecutor Joe Villanueva told the Daily Reporter back in November of 2022 after the Daily Reporter looked into the incident to see if Davis’ son received special treatment, that he felt the case should be dropped.

“My role in this case was to review the evidence and determine whether criminal charges should be filed,” Villanueva said in an email to the Daily Reporter. “I reviewed all available information and declined charges.”