Judge accused of sexual relationship with client could face sanctions

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An Indiana senior judge could face disciplinary action stemming from an inappropriate relationship with a man she represented as an attorney.

Lisa Traylor-Wolff is a senior judge who serves Pulaski and Fulton counties. She’s accused of having a physically intimate relationship with a client, according to charges filed by the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications. The group said the relationship violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.

The charges are allegations, the commission notes, adding that it will be up to the Indiana Supreme Court to decide if Traylor-Wolff did in fact break any rules.

Traylor-Wolff worked as a senior judge, serving on a part-time basis as a fill-in for trial court judges. Senior judges are also attorneys who represent clients—something full-time judges aren’t allowed to do.

According to the allegations, Traylor-Wolff engaged in the inappropriate relationship while serving in her capacity as an attorney. However, judicial standards of conduct still apply to her, the commission said.

Traylor-Wolff was assigned to represent a 26-year-old man on a felony charge. After his conviction, she continued to represent him during the appeal process. During that representation, the commission said, Traylor-Wolff began a romantic relationship with the man that included inappropriate conduct during an attorney-client visitation room at the Miami Correctional Facility.

Traylor-Wolff did not seek recertification as a senior judge in 2013. She faces three charges of violating the judicial code of conduct.

The allegations include having a sexual relationship with a client, breaking the Rules of Professional Conduct barring a lawyer from representing a client if there is a significant risk that the representation will be “materially affected” by a personal interest and violating a rule prohibiting judges from engaging in activities that could undermine the judge’s independence or impartiality.

Traylor-Wolff will have a chance to file an “Answer” to the charges. After that’s filed, the Indiana Supreme Court will arrange for a hearing.

The court has final authority over the case, and could dismiss the charges or impose disciplinary action. Sanctions could range from a reprimand to a permanent ban on holding judicial office in Indiana.