Supreme Court issues public reprimand against Johnson County prosecutor

A Johnson County prosecutor accused of violating professional rules of conduct through comments reported in the press has been publicly reprimanded by the Indiana Supreme Court.

The high court, with Justice Robert Rucker acting as chief justice, issued the public reprimand against Bradley D. Cooper on Friday.

The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission brought a formal complaint against Cooper after he texted a comment to the Indianapolis Star expressing his frustration with a St. Joseph Superior Court judge, who granted post-conviction relief to a convicted murderer in a case Cooper prosecuted. Cooper indicated he was “suspicious” of the transfer to Judge Jane Woodward Miller as a special judge.

After a Star reporter asked Cooper for comment on the judge’s findings that Michael Overstreet was incompetent to be executed, the prosecutor sent a text, reading, in part, “I was angry and suspicious when this case was sent to a distant judge who is not accountable to the Johnson County citizenry or a grieving mother who couldn’t even afford to drive up for the hearing.”
A hearing officer in Cooper’s disciplinary case recommended a public reprimand as the appropriate sanction for Cooper’s words in January, and the Indiana Supreme Court agreed, finding that he had violated Professional Conduct Rule 8.2(a), which prohibits making a statement known to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge. The costs of the proceedings are also assessed against Cooper.

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