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Diane Boswell

Judge Diane Boswell

File, The Times

"Altogether uninformed" is hardly the way our Region wants to hear one of its sitting criminal court judges described by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

But it happened recently, and Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Boswell has some explaining to do to her fellow judges, Region attorneys and taxpayers.

She also has some soul searching to perform regarding whether she should stay on the bench.

Last week, we learned the Indiana Court of Appeals rebuked Boswell, whose courtroom is in Crown Point, for seemingly not knowing that criminal defendants have the right to self-representation in court proceedings.

The right is enumerated in the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and firmly woven into the fabric of our nation.

General middle- and high-school civics and social studies courses lay this out for young Hoosiers.

Boswell, a seasoned officer of the court, should have known it as well.

Court records show that during a discussion at the bench in a criminal court proceeding, Boswell repeatedly told the defendant, who announced his intent to fire his public defender, that the defendant didn't have a right to represent himself.

She even asked where the defendant heard or read about the right to represent himself.

"This egregious lack of knowledge presents a serious risk to the rights of defendants and demands that we direct the trial court to case law regarding a criminal defendant's fundamental rights," appellate Judge John Baker wrote in the recent admonition.

"We advise the trial court to review this case law in depth and without delay."

We advise Boswell to consider whether a person not versed in such fundamental rights has a place occupying any position of authority in any courtroom at all.

Judges at all levels are entrusted with some of society's greatest power and responsibility.

It's not too much to ask that stewards of such responsibility possess a firm grasp of the basic tenets of their offices — in this case, a basic constitutional right.


Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Local News Editor Marc Chase, Lake County Editor Crista Zivanovic, Porter/LaPorte County Editor Doug Ross and Deputy Local Editor Erin Orr.