The Indiana Supreme Court has imposed a public reprimand against a Floyd County prosecutor charged with violations of three Professional Conduct Rules after he failed to recuse himself from a case he planned to write a book about.
The justices issued an order Friday imposing the public reprimand against Keith A. Henderson, who was the lead prosecutor in the case against David Camm, a former police officer charged with and eventually acquitted of the murder of his wife and two children after multiple trials.
Days after a jury found Camm guilty during a second trial, Henderson entered into an agreement with a literary agent to write a book about the case. Then, when the Indiana Supreme Court reversed Camm’s convictions and remanded the case to a third trial, Henderson told the agent that he now had a “bigger story.”
Although the book contract was eventually dropped, Camm petitioned for a special prosecutor to be appointed in his third trial, a motion that was denied at the trial court level but granted at the appellate level, when the Indiana Court of Appeals ordered Henderson’s removal from the case. The Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission then began an investigation into Henderson’s conduct, so he hired private counsel to represent him and sent payment vouchers, which included invoices from his private counsel, to the Floyd County Auditor.
The commission eventually found that Henderson had violated Indiana Professional Rules of Conduct 1.7(a)(2), 1.8(d) and 8.4(d) based on the conflict between his duties to the state and his own personal interests in the book deal, and the effect that conflict had on Camm’s trial. The commission also found Henderson to be in violation of Rules 8.4(c) and 8.4(d) based on the invoices he gave to the auditor, which the commission said he presented as requests for reimbursement related to his work on the Camm case, not the disciplinary action.
Judge David L. Pippen, who acted as the hearing officer, agreed with the conflict of interest charges against Henderson, but found that there was a lack of “clear and convincing evidence that (Henderson’s) submissions to Floyd County were fraudulent.” The justices of the Supreme Court agreed with the hearing officer’s report and found Henderson to be in violation of Rules 1.7(a)(2), 1.8(d) and 8.4(d), but found in his favor on the invoices charge.
While the Disciplinary Commission called for Henderson to be suspended, but Pippen recommended the public reprimand.
“The violation is serious and adversely affected the administration of justice in this case,” the court wrote in its Friday order explaining its decision to impose the public reprimand. “However, noting Respondent’s misconduct occurred in connection with a single, unusual case and is an aberration from what otherwise has been a long and distinguished career as a public servant, we conclude a suspension is not warranted in this case.”
All justices concurred except Geoffrey Slaughter, who did not participate. The full order can be read here.