ILNews

AG wants justices to consider prosecutor disqualification

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.”

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

  3. I always wondered why high fence deer hunting was frowned upon? I guess you need to keep the population steady. If you don't, no one can enjoy hunting! Thanks for the post! Fence

  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

ADVERTISEMENT