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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

nd. Decisions - More on: Supreme Court issues public reprimand to Carl J. Brizzi

Updating this ILB entry from yesterday, Jon Murray has this story today in the Indianapolis Star, headed "Ex-Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi reprimanded by Indiana Supreme Court: State Supreme Court reprimands ex-prosecutor in 2006 mass slaying case." Some quotes:

A reprimand by the Indiana Supreme Court over his colorful comments about the Hamilton Avenue slayings case caught former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi by surprise.

But in slamming Brizzi on Monday, the court put other prosecutors on notice with a warning: Watch your words.

The unanimous disciplinary opinion, which disregarded a hearing officer's recommendation last year to dismiss the charges, narrowed the range of information prosecutors can cite in public comments.

A legal expert predicted the 13-page decision would lead prosecutors across the state to "shy away from characterizing the evidence in any way."

"This is a very significant opinion, which is likely to lead to more restrained press releases and public statements from prosecutors," said Joel Schumm, a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

That may be just what the court's five justices intended.

Indiana's rules of conduct for attorneys require prosecutors to steer clear of comments to the media that might stack the deck against defendants. But until recently, the court has offered little guidance on exactly what information they can cite.

For future statements by Indiana prosecutors, the Brizzi decision laid out a strict interpretation of a current rule that allows their public comments to cite any information contained in a public record.

The decision says that means only public government records, including probable cause affidavits. The court reiterated that each statement must include an assertion that a charge is merely an accusation, and that the defendant is presumed innocent until proved guilty.

What its interpretation leaves out: information from media reports and a prosecutor's assessment of a case's strength.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 13, 2012 09:08 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions