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Prosecutor faces misconduct charges

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The Indiana Supreme Court's Disciplinary Commission has filed a complaint against Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi alleging he played to the media and violated professional conduct rules when commenting about two murder cases.

Filing a six-page complaint Oct. 1, the Disciplinary Commission is charging the 15-year prosecutor with making statements that went beyond the public informational purpose and prejudiced the pair of cases. He is charged with violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 3.8(f) and Rule 3.6.

The complaint says Brizzi's statements "... 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 ...."

Some of the comments were made at an April 2008 news conference during which Brizzi speculated about accused multi-state serial killer Bruce Mendenhall's mindset at the time of the Indianapolis killing of Carma Purpura, and also detailed evidence against the man. Comments included details of the victim's death and Brizzi said: "It's almost as if he (Mendenhall) wanted to get caught and then play a game of I'm smarter than the police."

The commission's second allegation involves a 2006 news release about seven family members who were brutally killed at a Hamilton Avenue house in Indianapolis, a case in which 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."

Defendant Desmond Turner is set to begin a bench trial early next week; the prosecutor now is seeking a penalty of life without parole. The Marion County Prosecutor's Office couldn't be reached today for comment about what, if any, impact this disciplinary action could have on that trial next week.

Neither Brizzi nor his spokesman returned messages from the newspaper seeking comment on the commission's action.

Brizzi has until the end of October to file a response to the charges, though that is not required. The Indiana Supreme Court has final say over attorney disciplinary issues, and if it finds misconduct the penalties could range from a private reprimand to suspension or disbarment.

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