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Defense attorney's arranged drug buy illegal

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The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a Bloomington attorney’s argument that his arrangement of a drug buy in an attempt to discredit a state’s witness against his client wasn’t a criminal offense because he’s “on the same legal footing” as prosecutors or police in planning controlled buys.

David Schalk was convicted of Class A misdemeanor attempted possession of marijuana after he arranged a drug buy with a state witness in his client’s trial for dealing in methamphetamine. Schalk wanted to prove that the witness was still dealing drugs in order to impeach his credibility at trial. Schalk convinced the two friends of his client to arrange a drug buy with the witness. They did so, but ended up keeping the drugs unbeknownst to Schalk. Schalk was unable to get a police officer to take the drugs and even contacted Monroe County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Robert Miller about what to do with the drugs.

Miller later contacted the sheriff’s department to report Schalk’s involvement in the scheme to buy marijuana from the witness. He was charged with Class D felony conspiracy to possess marijuana, which was reduced to the Class A misdemeanor attempted possession of marijuana after he waived his right to a jury trial. Schalk was sentenced to three months, suspended to non-supervised probation.

Schalk never denied providing the money for the drug buy, which his client’s mother reimbursed because she thought the money was needed for depositions. He argued that his conduct didn’t constitute a criminal offense and that there should be an exception to culpability under criminal statute for a defense attorney who arranges a drug buy to discredit a witness against his client at trial.

“While Schalk contends that his only intent was to deliver the marijuana to law enforcement or the court for use in defending his client at trial, such a purpose does not immunize him from prosecution,” wrote Judge Edward Najam in David E. Schalk v. State of Indiana, No. 53A01-1005-CR-210.

Schalk also argued, citing the statute allowing for a “citizen’s arrest” that the Indiana Legislature didn’t intend to prohibit residents from “taking prohibited drugs away from dealers so the drugs could be kept in police custody, used as evidence in court, and destroyed.” But there’s no evidence he tried to arrest Hyde, the judge continued, but he did arrange an illegal drug buy.

They also rejected Schalk’s argument that he has standing to assert his right to defend his client under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 13 of the Indiana Constitution.

“We agree that Schalk’s client has a right to legal representation guaranteed by both the federal and state constitutions,” Judge Najam wrote. “But we reject Schalk’s contention that an attorney, an officer of the court, who has given an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana is authorized to engage in criminal activity in defense of his client under either the Sixth Amendment or Article I, Section 13.”

A footnote stated that the trial court in Schalk’s client’s proceeding removed him as counsel after a hearing.
 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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