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AG holds second civil, criminal justice summits

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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller held his second annual Civil and Criminal Justice summits this week at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis, focusing on financial protections for military service members and crime lab evidence in trials.

The focus of the civil summit Oct. 19 was protecting service members from financial scams. Speakers included Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden; Holly Petraeus, the federal director of consumer financial protection efforts for military service members; and Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger, who is Adjutant General of the Indiana National Guard.

Summit participants received an overview of the consumer protections that protect military personnel from scams and addressed how to strengthen the legal assistance programs available to them. A number of consumer protections are provided under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and state law. The AG’s office recently launched www.indianaconsumer.com/military to give military families easy access to resources.

On Oct. 20, Zoeller focused on criminal law, taking a look at a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States on the use of witness testimony when introducing crime lab evidence in criminal trials. New Mexico Attorney General Gary King joined Zoeller to discuss the case — Donald Bullcoming v. New Mexico — which originated in his state.

The 5-4 decision this summer found that the laboratory analyst who performed the analysis of evidence in the crime lab — such as tests for drug and alcohol in blood — must testify at a defendant’s trial for the results to be admissible. Zoeller said he had concerns that the ruling will create significant backlogs and burdens on the testing system and if the lab technician who performed the test is unavailable to testify, it could allow a defendant to go unpunished.

Speakers at the criminal justice summit also included Johnson Superior Judge Lance Hamner, St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak and Forensic Services Agency director Michael Medler.

Zoeller’s inaugural justice summits at the University of Notre Dame last year focused on mortgage foreclosure and death penalty costs.

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