After recently suspending a deputy prosecutor for misconduct during a murder investigation, the Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the man charged in the investigation must stand trial.
The justices have agreed to hear the case of State of Indiana v. John B. Larkin, 46S04-1711-CR-701, the only case they granted transfer to last week. The issues in the case turn on the question of whether state officials took intentional actions to hurt John Larkin’s defense during his trial for the shooting death of his wife.
Larkin’s trouble with the state began when LaPorte County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Robert Neary and local law enforcement officials listened in on a privileged conversation between Larkin and his attorney that was captured on video. A separate recording also captured law enforcement officials discussing how they planned to pressure another officer to change his story to damage Larkin’s potential defenses.
The high court recently suspended Neary for four years without automatic reinstatement for his conduct throughout Larkin’s case, and similar conduct in another case.
After the state told Larkin that it had captured the privileged communications, it stipulated it would try the case within three months. However, after a series of judicial and prosecutorial recusals and appointments, the three-month period had passed, prompting Larkin to move for discharge.
Both the trial court and a majority of the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed the case should be dismissed on the grounds that Neary and law enforcement officials had acted intentionally to prevent Larkin from receiving a fair and speedy trial. However, Judge Michael Barnes dissented in a June opinion, writing “neither Larkin nor the majority have cited a case where recusal was required under circumstances similar to those here… .”
A date for oral arguments in Larkin’s case has not been set.
The justices denied transfer to 14 other cases last week. The full list of transfer actions can be viewed here.