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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ind. Decisions - More on: Supreme Court denies transfer for COA decision removing Prosecutor Keith Henderson from David Camm case

Updating yesterday's ILB entry, Matt Thacker of the New Albany News & Tribune has another long story today, headed "Floyd prosecutor critical of Supreme Court decision: Henderson defends using county funds for ethics complaint." Some quotes:

On June 3, 2009, Henderson’s literary agent negotiated a publishing agreement to print a book written by Henderson and a co-writer about the Camm case. After the conviction was overturned less than a month later, Henderson wrote a letter to his agent that he was still “committed to writing the book” but that it could not be published until after the third trial.

Henderson noted that he and former prosecutor Stan Faith — represented by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office — have gone 0 for 7 in Camm-related matters decided by the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. Henderson said he would not have agreed to the book deal if he had known it would result in him being removed from the case. However, he stood by his decision to write the book.

“I felt an obligation as prosecutor to let the community know what I know,” he said.

Henderson said there needs to be further clarification for prosecutors about what is permissible communication. He questioned whether giving a television interview or writing newspaper column would disqualify someone from prosecuting a case.

He said it will be a challenge at first for the new prosecutor to become familiar with approximately 40 bankers boxes of information accumulated from the case. Although no one in his office can be involved in the prosecution, he promised to do whatever he can to help the new prosecutor get up to speed.

Henderson said he has not thought much about his plans for the book. He said he does not have an overwhelming desire to write it at this point but left the door open that he might change his mind.

“We’ll see where it goes,” he said. “As I stand here now, no.”

Re the ethics compliant mentioned in the headline:
Henderson also confirmed that Camm’s attorneys filed an ethics complaint against him. Camm’s attorneys and the Indiana Disciplinary Commission have been unable to confirm the complaint since it is still in the investigation stage.

The next step will be for the disciplinary commission to decide whether to formally charge Henderson with misconduct. If that happens, the Indiana Supreme Court will appoint a hearing officer to hear the evidence and prepare a report. The Supreme Court would then make the final decision about any discipline.

“These complaints get made quite regularly,” Henderson said, adding that this case is unusual because of the complexity of the complaint.

Henderson said the allegations in the complaint are nearly identical to those in the motion to remove him from the case — claiming he made public statements that could prejudice potential jurors and was wrong to negotiate a book deal for a case in which he was still involved.

Henderson denied he did anything unethical. He also defended using county funds to hire a civil attorney to represent him in the complaint. The Floyd County Commissioners approved the expenses.

Henderson said it is no different than a public official being named in a lawsuit and using public funds to defend himself. He rejected criticism that the ethics complaint could be viewed a private matter since it relates to the book deal and not his work as prosecutor.

“But for my position as prosecutor that complaint wouldn’t have been filed,” he said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 16, 2012 06:57 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions