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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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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