Judge grants gag order against exoneration attorney

A northern Indiana judge has agreed to enter an injunction against a Chicago attorney accused of making “extrajudicial statements” in defense of a mentally-disabled man currently serving time for an Elkhart murder.

Elkhart Superior Judge Teresa L. Cataldo granted Elkhart County Prosecutor Vicki Becker’s request for an injunction against Elliot Slosar of Chicago firm Loevy & Loevy on Thursday. Becker sought the injunction after Slosar called a press conference to discuss the petition to vacate judgment he filed on behalf of Andrew Royer, who was convicted in 2005 of the 2002 murder of Helen Sailor.

Royer’s wrongful conviction petition alleges police misconduct led to his coerced confession, witness perjury and his conviction in the death of the 94-year-old woman. Specifically, the petition alleges Royer has numerous mental disabilities that police officers exploited to force him to falsely confess.

Royer’s co-defendant, Lana Canen, has already been exonerated https://www.theindianalawyer.com/articles/31294-aid-rises-for-those-wrongly-convicted after DNA evidence that tied her to the murder was discredited. Becker was the prosecutor who secured convictions against both Royer and Canen.

After filing the petition on Royer’s behalf, Slosar, who is not licensed in Indiana but is serving as pro hac vice on behalf of the Exoneration Project, said Elkhart’s criminal justice has a “systemic failure” that has led to an “epidemic that exists here where people are wrongfully convicted over periods of decades for crimes they didn’t commit because of police corruption, uninspiring defense counseling and an overzealous prosecutor… .” At the time of the Sailor murder trial, now-Attorney General Curtis Hill was the elected Elkhart County prosecutor.

“Today we stand unified and call upon Vicki Becker to agree to vacate Andrew Royer’s wrongful conviction,” Slosar said during the June press conference, according to Becker’s motion for an injunction. “If she believed that Andy Royer’s confession is true, then she should try him for murder and convince a jury whether Andy Royer’s confession is to be believed.”

Becker wrote in her motion that Slosar “should be governed by the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct as his extrajudicial comments appear to be intended to not only influence an elected official, namely the Prosecuting Attorney, but also to inflame public opinion with flamboyant statements and commentary on evidence that Mr. Slosar knows, or should know, would be inadmissible in an Indiana court of law as it is irrelevant, scientifically unreliable, lacking authenticity and foundation, and is otherwise misleading information.”

Becker told Indiana Lawyer in June that she would not comment on the wrongful conviction petition because “she was not willing to engage in the substantive litigation of this case in the media.”

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