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Candidate wants prosecutor to step down

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Marion County Republican prosecutor candidate Mark Massa has called on Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, also a Republican, to step down in the wake of a five-month-long Indianapolis Business Journal investigation.

Massa, a former general counsel for Gov. Mitch Daniels and deputy prosecutor in Marion County, on Wednesday announced a series of ethics reforms he plans to enact if elected. Highlights of the plan include a new public integrity unit within the Prosecutor's Office and a whistle-blower hotline for public employees to report malfeasance among elected officials.

He also said the man he hopes to replace should resign before his second four-year term ends Dec. 31. Massa cited a series of "disturbing published reports" detailing Brizzi's business dealings while in office, including an investment with a prolific defense attorney.

"I believe the prosecuting attorney should inspire public confidence, not public cynicism," Massa said in response to questions from reporters outside the federal courthouse in Indianapolis.

"I will work simply for the paycheck from the people every two weeks, and I'll work hard to earn it," he added.

Brizzi has resisted calls from former supporters to resign, and he has a personal interest in sticking around: He will be eligible for a public pension if he finishes his second term. With eight years of service, he would be entitled to earn 24 percent of his highest annual salary of $125,000, or about $30,000 per year once he reaches retirement age, by IBJ's calculation. The IBJ is a sister publication of Indiana Lawyer.

Brizzi, 41, said in a statement late Tuesday that he has no plans to resign.

"I have received no communications from anyone concerning a request to resign, period," Brizzi wrote. "Instead of adding to rumor-mongering or allowing innuendo to substitute for fact, I believe it is in the best interest of our community to focus on real-world issues, such as the safety of our residents and the effective prosecution of criminals."

Massa promised that, if elected, he would not engage in outside business interests, serve on the board of any for-profit company or accept gifts of any kind.
IBJ.com reported earlier Wednesday that Massa has been talking with Republican elected officials, seeking their support for a call for Brizzi to resign.
The request for Brizzi to step down comes just days after IBJ exclusively reported on Brizzi's personal intervention last year in a major drug case to offer a reduced sentence to a business partner's client.

Brizzi insisted on a plea deal for Joseph Mobareki that would be acceptable to defense attorney Paul J. Page, despite objections from both law-enforcement officers and his own deputy prosecutors. Brizzi also directed his staff to return $10,000 in cash seized from Mobareki. A year earlier, Page had arranged for Brizzi to own 50 percent of an Elkhart office building worth $900,000 without investing any cash or co-signing a loan.

If Brizzi stepped down before his terms ends, the responsibility under Indiana law to fill his position would fall to the Marion County Republican caucus, which likely would appoint Massa. If Brizzi were removed from office, the governor would appoint a replacement.

State law spells out a process for impeachment by the Indiana General Assembly should a prosecutor be convicted of a misdemeanor. A felony conviction could lead to removal from office by the Indiana Supreme Court.

Questions about the Mobareki case are only the most recent of Brizzi dealings to attract scrutiny. He has invested in public companies affiliated with Timothy Durham, the target of a federal securities fraud investigation. He bought a stake in the downtown Indianapolis restaurant Harry & Izzy's. And he has invested in real estate deals with John Bales, the real estate broker who represented the Prosecutor's Office in its lease deal.

Terry Curry, the Democratic candidate for prosecutor, said Brizzi's involvement in outside investments and business dealings sends the wrong message.
"It is clearly poor judgment to enter into business relationships with anyone while you are the full-time prosecutor of Marion County," Curry said in an interview. "I can absolutely pledge as prosecutor I wouldn't enter into any kind of outside business relationships."

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  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

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