ILNews

AG wants justices to consider prosecutor disqualification

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Arguing that prosecutors must face an actual conflict of interest before they can be removed from a case, the Office of the Indiana Attorney General wants the state justices to take the high-profile case of a former state trooper being tried for murders that happened more than a decade ago.

The AG filed a transfer petition Thursday in the case of David R. Camm v. State of Indiana, No. 87A01-1102-CR-00025, in which the Indiana Court of Appeals in November held that Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson can’t be involved with David Camm’s retrial. Twice convicted of killing his wife and two young children, Camm has had his convictions overturned on appeal; the most recent in July 2009. He faces a third trial in Warrick County.

Henderson had signed an agreement to publish a book about the Camm case before the man was sentenced to life without parole at a second trial in 2006, but after the Supreme Court ordered a new trial, Henderson ended the contract with the publisher. He hasn’t entered into a new one to write a book about the case in the future. Defense attorneys argued that contract created a conflict of interest and a special prosecutor should be appointed. The Court of Appeals agreed.

But in the AG’s transfer petition, the state argues that the intermediate appellate court wrongly removed Henderson based on Indiana’s disqualification statute and set a new standard that only an appearance of impropriety is needed to involuntary disqualify a prosecutor.

Writing that the Court of Appeals believed Henderson made himself an issue at trial, the AG’s brief says the appellate court incorrectly looked at what the prosecutor might do in the future and didn’t rely on the record in the case – now referred to as Camm III - when making its decision.

“This new addition to the special prosecutor statute does little to assist prosecutors in understanding what they may do or must avoid,” the brief says. “Before Camm III, the standard for disqualifying a prosecuting attorney was the existence of circumstances proving an actual conflict of interest. Camm III appears to add a balancing test, in which the prosecutor’s personal desires or statements are measured against speculative predictions about what will, or will not, be allowed at a future trial. It is unclear whether a prosecutor will not be disqualified for an egregious remark that cannot arguably affect the conduct of the trial, but may be disqualified for a slight remark that could arguably affect the trial. The Court of Appeals erred by holding that a personal desire that embraces any consideration beyond the legal duties of a prosecuting attorney may be grounds for disqualification and its decision on this ground should be reversed.”

 

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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