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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. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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