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Man accuses public defenders of malpractice

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An accused child molester who sat in jail for 2 1/2 years until his case was dismissed is suing his former public defenders for legal malpractice.

Donald Woods filed the suit Thursday in federal court against attorneys Bradley B. Jacobs and Leslie D. Merkley alleging legal malpractice because the two didn't question or investigate the allegation that Woods had inserted 4 feet of weed-eater wire into his estranged son's penis eight years earlier.

The suit Donald Woods v. New Albany Police Dept., et al., No. 4:10-cv-0002, was filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division. Woods is seeking $5 million under the Indiana Tort Claims Act.

Woods was charged with Class A felonies child molesting and criminal deviate conduct in July 2006 following allegations from his estranged wife that Woods inserted the wire into their son's body when he was only five years old in 1998, the last time he had any contact with his wife or son.

The wire was discovered when his son had a CT scan of his pelvis following a fall in 2006.

Jacobs and Merkley were assigned back-to-back as public defenders for Woods; in his suit, Woods claims neither attorney visited him in jail and never questioned how his son could live eight years with the wire inside of him without any physical problems. Woods' third public defender, Jennifer Culotta, obtained medical records in November 2008 and discovered the son had a CT scan on the same area in 2005 and there was no wire inside of him then.

The case was dismissed against Woods in March 2009 but he wasn't released from jail until December 2009.

In addition to his legal malpractice claims, Woods is suing the New Albany Police Department, Detective Sherri Knight, Clark County Sheriff's Department, Clark County Prosecutor Steven D. Stewart, and deputy prosecutor Shelley Marble for violations of his Fourth Amendment rights, malicious prosecution, false arrest, and false imprisonment.

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  1. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  2. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

  3. This outbreak illustrates the absurdity of the extreme positions taken by today's liberalism, specifically individualism and the modern cult of endless personal "freedom." Ebola reminds us that at some point the person's own "freedom" to do this and that comes into contact with the needs of the common good and "freedom" must be curtailed. This is not rocket science, except, today there is nonstop propaganda elevating individual preferences over the common good, so some pundits have a hard time fathoming the obvious necessity of quarantine in some situations....or even NATIONAL BORDERS...propagandists have also amazingly used this as another chance to accuse Western nations of "racism" which is preposterous and offensive. So one the one hand the idolatry of individualism has to stop and on the other hand facts people don't like that intersect with race-- remain facts nonetheless. People who respond to facts over propaganda do better in the long run. We call it Truth. Sometimes it seems hard to find.

  4. It would be hard not to feel the Kramers' anguish. But Catholic Charities, by definition, performed due diligence and held to the statutory standard of care. No good can come from punishing them for doing their duty. Should Indiana wish to change its laws regarding adoption agreements and or putative fathers, the place for that is the legislature and can only apply to future cases. We do not apply new laws to past actions, as the Kramers seem intent on doing, to no helpful end.

  5. I am saddened to hear about the loss of Zeff Weiss. He was an outstanding member of the Indianapolis legal community. My thoughts are with his family.

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