By Marilyn Odendahl

The Indiana Citizen

March 18, 2024



The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission is extending its investigation into Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita related to allegations he may have perjured himself when he signed the affidavit to settle a previous disciplinary complaint in November 2023.


According to two letters sent on March 12 to Rokita’s attorney, James Ammeen of Ammeen Valenzuela Associates in Indianapolis, the disciplinary commission is conducting a deeper investigation into allegations raised in the separate grievances filed by attorneys Bill Groth and Paula Cardoza-Jones. Copies of the letters were sent to Groth and Cardoza-Jones and reviewed by The Indiana Citizen.


The letters are short and contain the same message, including the acknowledgment that the investigation could lead to either new disciplinary charges being filed against Rokita or the matter being dropped altogether. Both letters say the separate grievances have been “docketed for further investigation and will be considered by the Disciplinary Commission to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that (Rokita has) been guilty of misconduct which warrants discipline, or whether the grievance should be dismissed.”


The Indiana Attorney General’s office said it was unaware of the letters and could not comment.


Rokita was asked to provide written responses to the grievances filed by Groth and Cardoza-Jones regarding the statement he released following his public reprimand by the Indiana Supreme Court on Nov. 2, 2023. Although his responses have not been made public, the March letters indicate Adrienne Meiring, the disciplinary commission’s executive director, has reviewed the grievances and the responses and determined “reasonable cause” does exist to believe that Rokita did violate the rules of professional conduct.


The letters cite to Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 23, section 10(g)(1) which governs the investigation of grievances alleging attorney misconduct. Under this provision, after the grievance is docketed, the executive director will conduct a more thorough investigation and then make a report, along with a recommendation, to the disciplinary commission.


Unless the Indiana Supreme Court grants additional time, the investigation into the grievance and any resulting action must be completed by mid-November of this year.


Post-reprimand statement targeted

Rokita was publicly reprimanded by the Indiana Supreme Court for his conduct during his office’s investigation into Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis OB/GYN. Following a report by The Indianapolis Star that Bernard had performed a medication abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio in July 2022, Rokita made television appearances and social media posts, saying his office was investigating Bernard for allegedly revealing personal health information in the rape case.


In November, the Indiana Supreme Court unanimously found Rokita had violated the attorney rules of professional conduct for calling Bernard an “abortion activist” and claiming she had a history of failing to follow the law and file the proper medical reports with the state. A 3-2 majority gave him a public reprimand, while the minority, which included Chief Justice Loretta Rush, argued the sanction was too lenient.


Rokita responded to the reprimand by issuing a lengthy and heated statement. He denied he had violated “anyone’s confidentiality or any laws” and blamed “liberal activists,” which he said included the medical establishment and the media, for his troubles. Also, Rokita said he had “evidence and explanation for everything I said” about Bernard and contended that he signed the affidavit – in which he agreed that there existed grounds for his discipline and he could not have successfully defended himself against the disciplinary charges – to save taxpayer money.


In their grievances, Groth and Cardoza-Jones highlighted what they said was Rokita’s lack of remorse following his public reprimand.


Also, Cardoza-Jones pointed out what she saw as the contradictions between the affidavit Rokita signed and his post-reprimand statement, contending he perjured himself “by lying in his affidavit.” She alleged Rokita violated the attorney professional rules of conduct by making a false statement of fact to the disciplinary commission and the Indiana Supreme Court, and engaging in conduct that involves “dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”


Groth asserted Rokita’s post-reprimand statement violated the Indiana state government’s administrative rules by using his office to engage in “blatant ideological and hate-filled rhetoric” and by attempting “to intimidate and silence those … who originally brought his professional misconduct” in the Bernard matter to the disciplinary commission’s attention.


Rokita’s representation paid for by taxpayers

Rokita has been represented by Schaerr Jaffe, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm, in this disciplinary case and, in September, added Indianapolis attorney James Ammeen to his legal team.


According to the contract that began Sept. 13, 2023, Ammeen is to “provide representation for eligible state employees and state officers … in matters concerning grievance and misconduct complaints filed before the Indiana Disciplinary Commission.” Also, the contract states that Ammeen will provide legal services in two lawsuits filed by former state employee James Holden against former Indiana treasurer Kelly Mitchell, State of Indiana ex rel. James Holden v. Ice Miller, LLC, et al, 49D12-2007-PL-022005, and James R. Holden v. State of Indiana Office of the Treasurer, et al., 49D01-1503-CT-007090.


However, according to the Marion County Superior Court docket, both those cases were decided before the contract was signed. The case, State of Indiana ex rel. James Holden, was dismissed after an appeal with prejudice July 10, 2023, while James R. Holden v. State of Indiana, was decided by the trial court granting the parties’ joint stipulation of dismissal with prejudice on Oct. 31, 2017.


The contract caps the Ammeen firm’s fees at $100,000 and mandates that Ammeen will be paid $300 per hour and any other attorney from the office will be paid $255 per hour.


Schaerr Jaffe’s contract was last amended in August 2023, upping the cap to $1.1 million. Invoices from August 2022 through April 2023 show Schaerr Jaffee charged just over $190,000 for legal services that would likely have included Rokita’s first disciplinary case and the litigation surrounding Bernard.


Both the Ammeen and Schaerr Jaffe contracts are paid by the state from revenues raised from Indiana taxpayers.


Disciplinary grievances filed against Ammeen and the Schaerr Jaffe partners, Gene Schaerr and Christopher Bartolomucci, by Cardoza-Jones, in which she accused them of enabling Rokita’s alleged misconduct, were dismissed by the disciplinary commission in February.



Dwight Adams, a freelance editor and writer based in Indianapolis, edited this article. He is a former content editor, copy editor and digital producer at The Indianapolis Star and, and worked as a planner for other newspapers, including the Louisville Courier Journal.


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