Supreme Court clears former prosecutor of disciplinary charges

A former Howard County prosecutor has been cleared of allegations brought by the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission that he paid a witness for his testimony in a 2010 murder trial.

Indiana Supreme Court justices on Friday found that James R. Fleming of Kokomo did not commit any professional misconduct after he was charged with violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 3.4(b) by offering an inducement to a witness that is prohibited by law and Rule 8.4(d) by engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

The charges stem from Fleming’s alleged act of paying witness Launden Luckett for his testimony in the 2010 trial for the murder of Abby Rethlake, the Kokomo Tribune reported. Luckett had agreed to a plea deal in exchange for his testimony against two men involved in the shooting of Rethlake and was allegedly promised by Fleming to receive payment from the Rethlake reward fund.

A Friday order issued by the Indiana Supreme Court says a hearing officer in the case concluded the commission failed to meet its burden of proving that Fleming committed any professional misconduct, and that it had not filed a petition for review.

“‘Where . . . the hearing officer’s report is unchallenged, we accept and adopt the findings contained therein with the understanding that final determination as to disciplinary violations and sanction rests with this Court.’ … Accordingly, we adopt and incorporate by reference the hearing officer’s findings of fact, and on those findings we likewise conclude that the Commission has failed to prove either of the two charged rule violations,” Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote for the unanimous panel.

The high court therefore entered judgment in favor of Fleming in In the Matter of: James Richard Fleming, 18S-DI-542.

Fleming, who is listed by the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council as a senior prosecutor, has had no prior attorney discipline actions filed against him, according to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys.

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