Second continuance for Brizzi

October 26, 2010
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Indiana Lawyer reporter Michael W. Hoskins wrote this blog post.

By the time Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi faces a disciplinary hearing on alleged misconduct about how he publicly discussed pending cases, he’ll have finished his term and will no longer be prosecutor in the state’s largest county.

A two-day hearing was set to start today before Shelby Circuit Judge Charles O’Connor, but both parties asked for a continuance because of discovery issues that have been ongoing for most of the year. A new date is set for January, and this is the second time the hearing has been pushed back – it was originally set for the end of April.

Brizzi has denied that he’s violated any professional conduct rules, as the Disciplinary Commission accused him of last year. A formal complaint filed Oct. 1, 2009, alleges the prosecutor’s public comments about two murder cases crossed the line and violated conduct rules. Brizzi's statements went beyond the public information purpose and prejudiced the pair of cases, according to the complaint, and amounted to violations of Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 3.8(f) and Rule 3.6(a). One issue came with an April 2008 news conference where Brizzi made statements about accused multi-state serial killer Bruce Mendenhall, and a second allegation involves a 2006 news release about the Indianapolis’ Hamilton Ave. slayings, where seven people were killed and Brizzi initially sought the death penalty. A comment in that news release stated about the defendants, "They weren't going to let anyone or anything get in the way of what they believed to be an easy score."

"The above public statements of the Respondent ... were not necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor's action and did not serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, and the same were extrajudicial comments that had a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation ..." the complaint says.

Responding to the complaint, Brizzi's answer came after two previous extensions that delayed the case for about three months. He admits to the general information about the underlying cases the statements were made about, but declined to admit or deny the specific claims cited in the complaint because the documents they were reportedly taken from were not included as part of the verified complaint.

After the April hearings were postponed because of discovery, the Oct. 26-27 dates were set. The Disciplinary Commission attorney and Indianapolis attorney Kevin McGoff, who represents Brizzi, filed a continuance motion on Oct. 19. The motion delves into the “broad” and “voluminous” discovery requests to Indianapolis media outlets, as well as requests that Brizzi’s office couldn’t fill and had to contact the county’s information services agency to explore. Some of those documents have just recently been received, and more will likely follow, the motion says.

Now, the hearings are set for January - a time that Brizzi won’t be in office any more since he isn’t seeking a third term.

While the hearing officer and ultimately the Indiana Supreme Court can find that misconduct occurred and decide a penalty is warranted, the fact that Brizzi will at that time be out of office could factor into the decision-making on what type of penalty – if any – is necessary. Attorneys can’t be faulted for lingering discovery issues that sometimes just can’t be avoided, but some may find it disappointing that this matter couldn’t have been closer to resolution by the time Brizzi leaves office. The public’s confidence in this elected office is shaken. And some in the legal community have said their confidence in this elected prosecutor has been shaken. This continuance means he gets to finish his term without answering to these specific allegations.

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  • Playing the Game
    It is a real shame that justice is not determined by what is right or wrong, truth or lie, just or unjust, but all about how you play the game, find the loopholes, and then skip scot-free. We sure do have the best justice that money and more money and laywers and more lawyers can buy.
  • Brizzi
    Brizzi routinely made announcements to the press about big busts, which later turned out to be busts as cases, because the cases were dropped or the jury found defendants not guilty. Brizzi was a show man & politician. He was a lousy prosecutor.

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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