Ad deja vu

October 25, 2010
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Reporter Mike Hoskins wrote today's post.

Consider 2010 an echo of the general election season back in 2008, when two attorneys were vying for the Indiana Attorney General post.

One ran an advertisement criticizing how the opponent had previously represented clients that are of the type that the AG would have to prosecute. Some attorneys took issue with that, saying it’s not fair to criticize lawyers for the clients they keep.

Now, the legal community in Marion County has a sense of déjà vu.

Leading up to the Nov. 2 general election, the Marion County Prosecutor’s race has brought those same issues to light. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi is leaving office at year’s end, and Republican candidate Mark Massa and Democratic candidate Terry Curry are battling for that post. Both have servitors in the state’s largest county, and Curry has also served as a defense attorney and mediator while Massa has most recently spent his time as counsel to Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Recently, Massa ran a television ad condemning Curry for defending a convicted child molester on appeal. A video is online at YouTube. The case involved Steven Young, and in 2001 on direct appeal the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the man’s convictions and 80-year aggregate sentence.

Using that as ad material, Massa created the commercial entitled, “One Question for Terry Curry” and poses whether the Democratic candidate can “get tough with child predators” when he has “no problem defending them?”

That ad has caused some Indianapolis attorneys to speak out against Massa, criticizing him for that ad.

Bob Hammerle – who raised concerns about the same issue in the 2008 AG race and unsuccessfully requested the Disciplinary Commission to weigh in – has spoken out. Lawyers shouldn’t be judged by the clients they keep, he believes, and says: “I’m so disappointed with Mark Massa that I can’t even find the words to describe it. This shouldn’t be allowed to stand from the lawyers’ perspective.”

Attorneys Jon Little and Ryan Ray are also disappointed and disgusted, saying that Massa has lost their votes.

“Your ad against Mr. Curry is essentially condemning him for upholding our oath and protecting the Constitution,” says a letter from Little and Ray to candidate Massa. “As attorneys we should be doing everything in our power to bolster the confidence in our judicial system and the offices of the court. In running your misleading advertisement, that condemns an officer of the court for doing his job, you have violated the very oath of the office of prosecutor should be so desperately trying to abide by following the current administration. You have disrespected the courts of justice, judicial officers, and the Constitution. Your condemnation of the actions of a fellow attorney simply upholding our sworn oath and the Constitution raises serious questions about your own integrity.”

At this point, no one has said they’ve contacted the Disciplinary Commission about Massa’s ad. But when Hammerle did that two years ago, he didn’t get very far. At the time, the agency didn’t find an appropriate basis for formal action because if dealt with public affairs and political discourse – the heart of the First Amendment.

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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