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Supreme Court orders special judge for third high-profile trial

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The Indiana Supreme Court has appointed a southern Indiana judge to preside over the third trial of a former state trooper charged with murdering his family a decade ago, and one of the initial decisions he’ll consider is whether to move the trial outside that region.

Granting what is sometimes known as a “lazy judge” motion under Indiana Trial Rule 53.1(F), the state’s highest court issued an order Friday that removes Warrick Superior Judge Robert Aylsworth from the case of David R. Camm, a former Indiana State Police trooper accused of killing his wife and two young children at their home in September 2000. Spencer Circuit Judge Jonathan A. Dartt will now hear the case.

Camm has been convicted twice for the murders, once in Floyd County and again in Warrick County after the trial was moved, but both times those convictions were reversed on appeal. Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson decided late last year after the latest remand that he’d pursue a third trial, and attorneys have been sparring back and forth since then about where to hold the case to ensure a fair trial.

Camm’s defense attorneys had asked the Supreme Court to appoint a special judge after Judge Aylsworth failed to rule on a venue change motion within 30 days, as required by the trial rules. The defense had filed a motion to move the case out of Warrick County to northern Indiana because of media exposure. Judge Aylsworth sent questionnaires to 200 potential jurors to determine how much they knew about the case and whether a fair trial could be held there. Camm had filed a motion in mid-April to seek a new venue. The state objected April 30, Camm filed a response May 6, and then Camm’s defense attorneys filed the special judge request 33 days after that.

Defense attorney Stacy Uliana in Indianapolis couldn’t be immediately reached for comment today, but Floyd County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Steve Owens said a decision had been put on hold for the past month since the special judge request had been filed.

Now, Judge Dartt will be responsible for all hearings in that case, including the venue change motion and likely the third trial no matter where it’s held.

Both sides have disputed what the surveys reveal about the venue location – Henderson said the prosecution could easily select an impartial jury in Warrick County because more than 50 of the 176 who responded had little or no knowledge of the case; while Uliana said at least half responded that they believed Camm is guilty and that means they’re tainted in that part of the state.

Owens doesn’t foresee any change in how the case is handled, but he does expect that the special judge will need to take some time to get up to speed and review Judge Aylsworth’s work before moving ahead. No new court dates had been scheduled as of this afternoon, he said.

“The case is prosecuted the same no matter what county you’re in, what prosecutor or judge you have,” Owens said. “This will have no impact on us, and Judge Dartt knows best about how it may proceed.”
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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