On November 2, 2023, the Indiana Supreme Court issued a public reprimand to Attorney General Theodore E. Rokita for comments he made during a national television interview regarding an Indiana doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Theodore E. Rokita” with case number 23S-DI-258.
According to the filing, Rokita violated the following Indiana Professional Conduct Rules:
3.6(a): A lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.
4.4(a): In representing a client, a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person, or use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person.
The case arose after the doctor legally performed the abortion on July 1, 2022, and submitted the required reports to Indiana state agencies on July 2, 2022. On July 11-12, the Attorney General’s office requested records and notified the doctor of an investigation based on complaints.
During the July 13, 2022, television appearance, Rokita referred to the doctor as “an abortion activist acting as a doctor—with a history of failing to report.”
Rokita admitted to the violations in a sworn affidavit and agreed to a proposed discipline of a public reprimand in a conditional agreement with the Disciplinary Commission. The Court found the discipline appropriate based on Rokita’s experience level, his cooperation and lack of prior discipline, and comparisons to prior public reprimands for similar misconduct.
The opinion noted Rokita’s statements reached a wider audience on national television versus local channels. Chief Justice Rush and Justice Goff dissented, arguing for harsher discipline given Rokita’s prominent position.
According to Wikipedia, Rokita is a lawyer, politician, and the current Attorney General of Indiana. He previously served as a U.S. Representative and Secretary of State of Indiana. Rokita made history in 2002 when he was elected to office at the age of 32, becoming the youngest secretary of state in the United States at that time.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.