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COA affirms dropped charges for ex-IURC chief Hardy

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Because David Lott Hardy, former chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, broke no laws, a trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in dismissing felony official misconduct charges against him, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Tuesday.

“Because our Supreme Court has interpreted the official misconduct statute to require a charge of official misconduct to rest upon criminal behavior that is related to the performance of official duties, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it dismissed the State’s charges against Hardy,” Judge Rudy R. Pyle III wrote for the panel, citing State v. Dugan, 793 N.E.2d 1034 (Ind. 2003). “We need not address any of the State’s or Hardy’s remaining arguments.”

The state appealed Marion Superior Judge William Nelson’s dismissal of four class D felony official misconduct counts against Hardy in State of Indiana v. David Lott Hardy, 49A02-1309-CR-756.

The state claimed on appeal that the official misconduct statute did not require a predicate criminal offense.

The charges against Hardy were based on ethical and administrative violations alleged in his involvement in the permitting process for Duke Energy’s coal-gasification plant in Edwardsport. Former Gov. Mitch Daniels fired Hardy after accusations arose that he lobbied Duke officials on behalf of Scott Storms, who had been an administrative law judge hearing Duke cases at the IURC while also trying to land a job with the utility.

Hardy’s case also involved variations of the official misconduct statutes. Prior to July 1, 2011, the code defined the offense as an act a public servant  was “forbidden by law” to perform. The statute that took effect after July 1, 2011, I.C. 35-44.1-1-1 rewrote the code to require an underlying crime, and that revised statute was applied retroactively to Hardy.

Under either version, though, the court held, “Dugan unequivocally established that a charge of official conduct must be based on a criminal offense.”

It’s unclear whether the attorney general’s office will appeal.
 
"The Attorney General's Office represents the prosecution on appeal and sought to have the criminal charges reinstated in pursuit of justice, but respects the Court's ruling,” spokesman Bryan Corbin said. “The State is reviewing the Court's opinion carefully as we weigh the decision of whether to seek transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court."

 





 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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