« Ind. Courts - More on: Complaint filed against Johnson County prosecutor | Main | Ind. Courts - Rulings on Carmel traffic ticket "piggy-back" case in federal court »

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Ind. Courts - Floyd County prosecutor Keith Henderson should be significantly disciplined, not simply reprimanded, Disciplinary Commission recommends

Elizabeth DePompei reports last this afternoon for the Floyd County News & Tribune:

The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission has formally asked the state's high court to give Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson more than a "mere slap on the wrist" over findings that Henderson acted unethically.

The disciplinary commission is responsible for investigating claims of misconduct against licensed attorneys, including county prosecutors. In March 2015, the commission filed a complaint alleging Henderson violated rules of conduct when he signed an agreement with a literary agency to produce a book about the high-profile David Camm trials. * * *

The disciplinary commission made its case and Henderson responded during several days of ethics hearings in Indianapolis last October. In early August, Hearing Officer David Pippen released his opinion [ILB: see this Aug. 5th ILB post, which includes a link to the Hearing Officer's recommendation] and found that Henderson did violate ethics by entertaining a book deal. Pippen's recommendation was a "public reprimand."

On Monday, attorneys for Henderson and the commission filed petitions asking that the Indiana Supreme Court review Pippen's findings before handing down a final decision. David Hughes, representing the commission, wrote that Pippen's findings lacked sufficient context and detail.

"The Commission believes that the clear and convincing evidence established serious professional misconduct by [Henderson] so as [to] warrant a significant period of suspension from the practice of law," Hughes wrote.

Hughes also addresses a second count of allegations that Henderson was deceitful in requesting nearly $30,000 of county money. That public money, Hughes argued, was used to pay for Henderson's private attorney fees in response to Camm's request to remove Henderson from the case in light of the book negotiations. Pippen did not offer an opinion regarding the use of public money, but said the disciplinary commission failed to show any evidence that Henderson did anything wrong when seeking reimbursement for his legal fees.

Hughes said in his petition that Pippen focused too much on whether county officials acted properly in approving the funds and too little on the manner in which Henderson requested them. A resolution requiring Henderson to pay the county back died for lack of a second at a Floyd County council meeting on Aug. 9, just days after Pippen's findings were released. * * *

The Indiana Supreme Court will review Pippen's findings and both petitions before handing down a final decision on what sanctions, if any, Henderson will face.

Henderson — who is running for Floyd County Circuit Court judge in November — and his attorney have said they will not comment on the case while the review in ongoing. Hughes, the commission's attorney, said last October that he does not comment on ongoing cases.

The long N&T story links to the Commission's October 3rd petition for Supreme Court review, which concludes:
Respectfully, the Court should conduct a de novo review of this proceeding, find and conclude that the Respondent engaged in the professional misconduct as charged in both Counts I and II of the Verified Complaint For Disciplinary Action, and enter an appropriate order of discipline significantly beyond that of a public reprimand.
ILB: The ILB has downloaded, from the News & Tribune website, both the Commission's Oct. 3rd Brief of the Disciplinary Commission in support of its Petition for Review and the Respondent's 55-page Oct. 3rd Petition for Review seeking Court review of certain parts of the Hearing Officer Report.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 6, 2016 04:43 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts