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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Still more on: Supreme Court issues public reprimand to Carl J. Brizzi

Updating this ILB entry from March 13th, today in this item in the Indianapolis Star weekly column, Behind Closed Doors, reporter Jon Murray expands on his March 13th story:

Prosecutors in Indiana will have to be even more careful when they comment publicly on pending cases under guidance provided by the Indiana Supreme Court last week.

They're still sorting out what to make of a disciplinary case that ended with the high court reprimanding former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi. He was taken to task for his comments in 2006 after the prosecutor's office filed murder charges against two men accused in the Hamilton Avenue slayings of seven people. The men were later convicted.

The Supreme Court's worry: that Brizzi's comments -- including saying in a news release, "I would not trade all the money and drugs in the world for the life of one person, let alone seven" -- risked robbing the defendants of a fair trial.

So what does Brizzi's successor in Marion County think?

"We've made every effort to be circumspect in what we say," Prosecutor Terry Curry told us after Monday's Brizzi ruling was issued. "If it's necessary that we be more so, in light of this decision, we will obviously do it."

Still, the office's attorneys will have to tread carefully. A law professor, Joel Schumm, recalled a statement by Curry a year ago, about a death-penalty case, that might have pushed the envelope had the Supreme Court's new rules been in effect then.

Curry issued a news release in February 2011 announcing his decision to seek the death penalty against Thomas X. Hardy in the killing of Indianapolis police officer David Moore.

He said: "We believe the evidence will clearly show that this senseless killing was intentional while Officer Moore was doing nothing more than performing his routine duties. As we should all realize from the emotional outpouring after Officer Moore's death, this is more than a crime against our police officer. It is a crime against our community."

"That sounds pretty close to out of bounds," said Schumm, a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

But Curry disagreed, saying his intent was to explain why the death penalty was warranted. "In terms of the Officer Moore case, (what I said) is the allegation of the complaint."

On Wednesday, Hardy pleaded guilty to murder in exchange for the promise of a life sentence.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 18, 2012 09:36 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions