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Special judge rules on venue change in Camm case

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

A southern Indiana judge has decided not to change the venue of a former state trooper’s third murder trial, and instead will bring in jurors from outside the region to consider charges in a case that has twice been overturned on appeal.

In a ruling Friday, Spencer Circuit Judge Jonathan Dartt – who the Indiana Supreme Court appointed earlier this year to serve as special judge on the David Camm case – denied a request to change venues and move the trial outside of southern Indiana. Judge Dartt asked the prosecution and defense to inform the court within 10 days whether they’ll agree for all future hearings and the trial to be held in adjacent Spencer County where he presides, or whether it should remain in Warrick County where the second trial had been moved and held.

Camm was first tried in Floyd County for the September 2000 murders of his wife and two children, ages 5 and 7. His first convictions were overturned and the second trial was moved to Warrick County, and last year the Indiana Supreme Court reversed those convictions. Late last year, Camm’s defense attorneys requested a venue change on the grounds that jurors were too exposed to prejudicial media coverage and couldn’t offer a fair and impartial verdict. Justices removed Judge Robert Aylsworth in July after determining that he’d taken too long to rule on the request, and Judge Dartt was brought on to hear the case.

Though he decided to keep the hearings and trial in the region, Judge Dartt ordered that jurors be chosen from another county. He’s instructed both sides to submit a list of at least five counties they would prefer to see the jury selected from.

“By this Order, it is the Court’s intention that due to the publicity and notoriety this case has received in Southern Indiana, the Court will convene in a county to the north outside of the Louisville and Evansville media markets and select a jury and after the jury is selected for the trial to be held in the county of the Court’s location,” the chronological case summary shows.

Aside from the venue issue on the Camm case, Judge Dartt is also tasked with deciding whether Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson – who’s handled the case from the start – should remain the prosecutor. The defense late last year requested a special prosecutor be appointed, specifically because of an agreement that Henderson had entered into to publish a book about the high-profile case. Henderson has said that no book would happen if the Supreme Court overturned Camm’s conviction, as happened last year, but that didn’t change the defense request. Judge Dartt has scheduled a hearing on the motion for a special prosecutor for Sept. 24.
 

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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