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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. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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