Judge William J. Hughes
Judge William J. Hughes
The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications (ICJQ) announced on Friday it filed disciplinary charges against Hamilton Superior Court Judge William J. Hughes following his October 2010 misdemeanor arrest in North Carolina for driving while impaired.

While vacationing in the Outer Banks, Hughes was pulled over by a Currituck County, N.C. Sheriff's deputy for an alleged traffic violation. Hughes was given a breathalyzer test and his blood-alcohol content was 0.13 - North Carolina's legal limit is 0.08.

Hughes apologized for his actions in a statement in November, when he announced the arrest to the public. Hughes said in his statement that he had also voluntarily submitted information to the ICJQ.

In April, a North Carolina prosecutor dismissed the driving while impaired charge and filed a Class 2 misdemeanor charge of reckless driving. Hughes pled guilty in Currituck County District Court to Reckless Driving and was sentenced to 30 days in jail (suspended) and placed on unsupervised probation for 1 year. In addition, Hughes must enroll in and complete an alcohol and drug assessment program within 180 days or attend at least 10 hours of substance abuse counseling, and he must not operate a vehicle within eight hours of consuming any alcohol. A North Carolina judge also imposed a $300 fine plus $143 in court costs.

On Friday, the ICJQ said its misconduct charge centers on Hughes' arrest.

"The Commission alleges Judge Hughes violated Rule 1.1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which required judges to respect and comply with the law and Rule 1.2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires judges to uphold the integrity of the judiciary and to maintain high standards of conduct," the ICJQ announced in a press release.

Hughes has the opportunity to file an answer to the charges with the Supreme Court within 20. After the Answer is filed or 20 days has passed, the Indiana Supreme Court will appoint three judges to conduct a public hearing on the charge that Hughes committed judicial misconduct. Supreme Court rules also allow for the commission and the judge to submit a settlement agreement to the court. Any settlement agreement or any decision reached by the judges must be approved by the Indiana Supreme Court.

No public hearing has been scheduled.

According to the ICJQ, the Indiana Supreme Court can dismiss the charges against Hughes, accept or reject a conditional agreement, impose a fine, impose sanctions ranging from a reprimand to a suspension to a permanent ban on holding judicial office in the state.

Hughes has served on the bench for 23 years and has presided over Hamilton Superior Court 3 since 1997. His term expires at the end of 2012.