A Hamilton County judge will hear the case against a strip club owner accused of assaulting Indianapolis City-County Councilman Jeffery Miller after three successive Marion County judges recused themselves from the case.
Jeffery Moe, 51, is charged with battery, strangulation, criminal confinement and disorderly conduct for an altercation between him and Miller at the Marion County Alcohol & Beverage Commission meeting on March 5.
In an affidavit, the Marion County sheriff’s deputy who arrested Moe said he saw him place his hands around Miller’s throat and then slam Miller’s head against a marble wall. Moe told RTV6 he picked Miller up by his collar and shook him – but didn’t strangle him or slam him against a wall.
The incident stemmed, Moe said, from efforts by Miller to get his liquor license revoked and from attacks on Moe’s character by Miller at an earlier meeting.
Miller is facing charges of his own in an unrelated case from November on three counts of child molestation. The charges stemmed originally from allegations by a 10-year-old girl that Miller has massaged her and made her feel uncomfortable on multiple visits to his home.
Because Miller requested, and was ultimately granted, a special prosecutor in his case, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry filed a preemptive request for a special prosecutor to also handle Moe’s case. That request was granted on March 14, when Putnam County Prosecutor Timothy Bookwalter was assigned as special prosecutor.
Days earlier, on March 8, Marion County Judge Sheila Carlisle recused herself from hearing the case. Judge Marc Rothenberg also recused himself the same day. A third Marion County judge, Judge Marc Stoner, recused himself on March 14, citing Miller’s role on the city-county council and the fact that he represents the district selected for the new criminal justice center.
“As such,” Stoner wrote, “in the interests of justice, the entire Marion County judiciary would have a perceived conflict and this Court now requests the Indiana Supreme Court to appoint a Special Judge outside of Marion County to hear this case.”
On Thursday, the Indiana Supreme Court granted that request, assigning Hamilton County Judge David K. Najjar to hear the case in Marion County. Najjar, who has served for more than a decade as a magistrate judge in Hamilton County, was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb last week to fill a vacancy on the Hamilton County Superior Court left by the retirement of Judge Wayne Sturtevant last summer.
Moe told RTV6 he intends to fight the charges against him. He is being represented in the case by Indianapolis attorney Ralph Winston Staples.
Moe’s next court appearance was scheduled for a pretrial conference on May 22. Miller was next expected in court in his case for a pretrial conference on April 13 in Hendricks County Superior Court 4 – where the case was moved following a request for a change of venue.