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Ex-prosecutor gets 4-month suspension

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Former Delaware County Prosecutor Mark McKinney has been suspended for 120 days, the Indiana Supreme Court announced Thursday. The suspension begins July 28, with automatic reinstatement upon its conclusion, subject to the conditions of Admission and Discipline Rule 23(4)(c).

In issuing its opinion on In The Matter of Mark R. McKinney, No. 18S00-0905-DI-220, the court held that McKinney created a conflict of interest by simultaneously prosecuting drug offender cases while pocketing assets seized from defendants in those cases.

McKinney was a Delaware County deputy prosecutor from 1995 until he became the county’s prosecutor in 2007. McKinney worked in conjunction with the now-defunct Muncie-Delaware County Drug Task Force to bring drug-related criminal cases to court. In 1995 and 2004, McKinney and former Delaware County Prosecutor Richard Reed entered into written fee agreements that guaranteed McKinney 25 percent of any civil forfeiture action that he brought, under a statute currently codified at Indiana Code 34-24-1-1, et seq.

The disciplinary action said Reed had contemplated the same deputy prosecutor should handle both the criminal case and the associated forfeiture case, and he concluded the criminal case would end before any resolution of the forfeiture case. Otherwise, the costs associated with the criminal case would not be known. But the justices stated that in many instances, criminal cases were open while related civil forfeiture actions were also open. McKinney also, at times, engaged in plea agreement negotiations knowing that he would receive compensation as the result of an action.

Beginning in 2002, McKinney used what he called Confidential Settlement Agreements to transfer seized property, including cash, from criminal defendants to the city of Muncie through private agreement by the parties without court supervision or public disclosure. He then invoiced the city of Muncie and collected 25 percent of the money transferred, which he based on his interpretation of the fee agreements he had created with Reed. In some instances, McKinney was engaged in CSA negotiations while the corresponding criminal cases were open.

 “Although there is no evidence in this case that Respondent made any explicit quid pro quo offer of favorable treatment to any criminal defendant in exchange for the forfeiture of property from which Respondent would be compensated, it would doubtless be evident to such a defendant, and to his or her attorney if represented, that prosecutorial discretion in how to proceed with the criminal case was held by one who stood to reap personal financial gain if the defendant agreed to the forfeiture of his or her assets. Respondent's misconduct created an environment in which, at the very least, the public trust in his ability to faithfully and independently represent the interests of the State was compromised,” the justices wrote.

Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David did not participate in the Supreme Court’s deliberations. Justice David was a Boone Circuit judge when he served as hearing officer in McKinney’s disciplinary case that began in December 2009. In 2010, he recommended a public reprimand as suitable punishment for McKinney.

The Supreme Court found McKinney in violation of Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.7(b), 1.7(b)(2), 1.8(1), and 8.4(d).

Justice Robert Rucker dissented with the sanction imposed by the court, preferring a public reprimand, but otherwise concurred with the majority’s findings.
 

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  1. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  2. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  3. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  4. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  5. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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