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Friday, January 17, 2014

Ind. Courts - More on "Camm lawyers ready to battle over legal fee from third trial"

Updating the story from late yesterday in the LCJ, Chris Morris of the New Albany News & Tribune also has a story about Floyd County resisting paying the defense bills, and hiring a special counsel to represent the County Council in its resistance. It does not say how much the additional counsel will be paid ... Some quotes from the long story:

NEW ALBANY — While David Camm was found not guilty in his third murder trial three months ago, the debate on how much Floyd County should pay the defense team lingers.

Tuesday night, the Floyd County Council discussed the ongoing dispute with some of the bills submitted by Camm’s defense team led by attorney Richard Kamen.

Auditor Scott Clark said the county still owes $659,000 in bills related to the Camm case. All of those bills are for defense expenses except for $51,800.

Of that total, Kamen’s bills total $297,082 and fellow defense attorney Stacy Uliana is owed $19,744. Around $2 million has already been spent on the the three trials, Clark said.

Clark told the council Tuesday that he recently received a court order, which was faxed to him with Kamen’s invoices, instructing the county to pay the bills. He also said he has been working with Special Prosecutor Stan Levco to go over the witness list and try to figure out who is owed what.

“There are a number of situations with the bills. We are trying to verify who the people are and if they testified or not,” Clark said.

Clark has been in contact with Judge Jonathan Dartt and provided updates on what the council was preparing to do about the outstanding bills. A special hearing in front of Dartt will likely be held soon.

That is where the real debate came in Tuesday night.

After several minutes of discussion, the county council finally approved a resolution which will allow for special counsel to be hired to represent the council at a hearing to discuss the bills, and for possible litigation.

Council Attorney Chris Lane worked in the Floyd County Prosecutor’s office during Camm’s second trial and although he did not participate in the trial, some council members said it would be a conflict of interest to have him represent the board.

John Schellenberger disagreed. Schellenberger, who was voted out as president at the beginning of the meeting, said it would not be a conflict of interest to have Lane draft a letter to the judge or discuss the outstanding bills at a hearing.

“At this point it’s just fact finding. This is not litigation. Chris Lane is our legal counsel and should initiate discussion,” Schellenberger said. “I don’t think we should hire an independent counsel.”

However, Brad Striegel, who submitted the resolution, said to avoid potential problems in the future that an independent counsel should be hired. The other five members agreed, and will seek to hire special counsel.

“It’s important we demonstrate that we recognize the bills and recognize that we are responsible to pay them,” said Council President Jim Wathen. “But we want to pay the right amount or the right bill.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 17, 2014 10:39 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts