ILNews

Theft case requires special prosecutor

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a man's request for the reappointment of a special prosecutor because the original basis for appointing the special prosecutor still existed even after one charge was dropped.

Bruce Jones was charged with felony theft, felony forgery, felony impersonating a public servant, and being a habitual offender. Jones would telephone the local chapter of the American Red Cross and say he was Curtis Hill, the elected prosecutor of Elkhart County. Jones claimed he was calling on behalf of people who had been victims of disasters and successfully got disaster relief funds twice from the organization. He was caught on his third attempt.

The state filed motions requesting a special prosecutor to avoid the appearance of impropriety. A special prosecutor was appointed, but when an Elkhart Deputy Prosecutor filed a motion to dismiss the impersonating a public servant charge, the special prosecutor withdrew his appearance on the basis he was no longer necessary. Jones moved for the reappointment of a special prosecutor and was denied, resulting in the appeal in Bruce Jones v. State of Indiana, No. 20A04-0808-CR-462.

Even though the impersonating a public servant charge was dropped, the need for a special prosecutor didn't end, wrote Judge Michael Barnes. When the charges were first filed, Hill told news media he was troubled that a local business and organization had been victimized by someone using his name, and based on that statement, the general public could be led to believe that Hill would be motivated to treat Jones more harshly than an "ordinary" theft suspect, wrote the judge. The filings in the case suggested the special prosecutor was requested and appointed for the general purpose of avoiding the appearance of impropriety in Jones' prosecution for all the charges.

"The dismissal changed the form of the case against Jones, but the substance was largely unchanged. The trial court erred in not appointing another special prosecutor or, alternatively, permitting the appointed the special prosecutor to withdraw his appearance," wrote Judge Barnes.

The appellate court remanded for the appointment of a special prosecutor in the forgery and theft cases against Jones.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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