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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ind. Courts - "State targets prosecutor's lapsed license"

Ruth Ann Krause reports today in the Gary Post-Tribune:

Newton County Prosecutor J. Edward Barce, who is serving as special prosecutor in a case involving a Gary lawyer charged with trafficking with an inmate, let his law license go into inactive status for more than three years.

Until four months ago, Barce's license had been on inactive status since Aug. 5, 2005, according to Donald Lundberg, executive secretary of the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission. Barce reactivated his license on Feb. 23, Lundberg said.

Barce's license status was one of the reasons cited by Jerome Taylor in seeking the dismissal of the trafficking with an inmate case Barce filed in June 2007 against Taylor's client, Gary attorney Carl Jones.

Taylor asked Lake Superior Court Judge Sheila Moss to dismiss the case in a March 19 filing and argued that Barce's inability to practice law in Indiana amounted to prosecutorial misconduct.

In a June 11 ruling, Moss found that Jones hadn't been harmed or prejudiced by the fact that Barce's law license was on inactive status. * * *

As attorney for the commission, Lundberg said he filed a complaint April 8 charging Barce with misconduct for functioning as Newton County prosecutor and as a special prosecutor in other cases with an inactive law license. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 16 in Lafayette. If the court finds misconduct has occurred, it could take action ranging from a private reprimand to a permanent disbarment.

As for what happens to cases Barce was involved in as the elected prosecutor in Newton County, Lundberg said Barce's license status "raises a cloud over those cases. I suppose anyone who was convicted could test the validity of that conviction."

Two other Lake County cases had been referred to Barce for review because of potential conflicts in the Lake County prosecutor's office. They include a May 28 shooting outside Bennigan's in Gary in which one man was wounded. Gary lawyer Jerry Peteet, who was identified as a suspect, has denied involvement.

The second case stems from an October 2007 crash in Gary in which Gary lawyer Cornell Collins was arrested after allegedly driving drunk and leaving the scene. Collins' wife, Rochelle Moody, works in the prosecutor's office.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 1, 2009 10:17 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts