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Judges to hear misconduct case against former IURC chairman Monday

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A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals Monday will hear arguments on whether four misconduct charges should have been dismissed against former Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission chairman David Lott Hardy.

Hardy was indicted by a Marion County grand jury in 2011 on four counts of Class D felony official misconduct. He was accused of lobbying Duke Energy to hire then IURC administrative law judge Scott Storms, and of having ex parte communications with the power company about the Edwardsport plant in 2010. The bases for the charges were four of Hardy’s actions between 2008 and 2010 that allegedly violated Indiana law, including a violation of Indiana ethics laws, a civil law infraction and two violations of administrative regulations.

In August, Marion County Superior Judge William Nelson granted Hardy’s motion to dismiss all charges. Nelson held the Indiana General Assembly’s changes to the criminal official misconduct statute, I.C., 35-44-1-2, which became effective July 1, 2012, were meant to be retroactive.

Following recommendations of the Indiana inspector general, the Indiana General Assembly tightened the criminal official misconduct statute. The changes clarified that the law applied to specific criminal offenses by public officials committed in the performance of the public servant’s official duties, and did not apply to violations of ethical or administrative rules or infractions. An “offense” only encompasses felonies or misdemeanors.

The trial court dismissed the charges against Hardy because it determined that this amendment was remedial in nature and applied to Hardy retroactively, even though his alleged violations occurred before the amendment.

The state appealed, with Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller asserting that if the General Assembly intended to make a 2012 change in the law retroactive, it would have written that language into the statute which it did not do.

The scheduled panel members are Judges Paul D. Mathias, Cale J. Bradford and Rudolph R. Pyle III.
 

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