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Court reviews prosecution misconduct case

Prosecution and police must respect a defendant's constitutional rights regardless of the seriousness of the criminal charge. The Indiana Supreme Court is reviewing a case where the criminal defense attorneys claimed that police and prosecutors engaged in misconduct.

In this criminal manslaughter case, the defendant was charged with shooting and killing his wife in their Long Beach home in Dec. 2012. However, defense attorneys claimed that Long Beach and Michigan City police did not allow the defendant to call his attorney on the night he was arrested on Dec. 11, 2012. Police still interrogated him over several hours, took photographs and collected DNA swabs and adhesive lifts.

Police and prosecutors were also accused of violating attorney-client privilege by recording a conversation between the defendant and his attorneys while he was incarcerated at the La Porte County Jail. They transcribed this conversation and distributed to other law enforcement agencies.

Also, two Long Beach Police officers mistakenly recorded themselves discussing how they could persuade a Michigan City officer to change his testimony and hamper the defendant's case. Furthermore, the door of the defendant's gun safe was subject to tampering between the time it was returned from the FBI laboratory to the Michigan City Police and then to an independent analyst retained by defense attorneys.

A Pulaski County judge dismissed the prosecution in 2016. The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal last June.

The Deputy Attorney General, in oral argument before the Court last month, asked for retrial of the defendant after a court determines which evidence must be suppressed because of the misconduct. The Court delivered a similar ruling in another case where Michigan City police officers and the former deputy prosecutor eavesdropped on a conversation between a defendant and his attorney.

The prosecutor in that case was also involved in the prosecution in this appeal and had his law license suspended for four years because of his misconduct. In addition to this appeal, the defendant also filed a civil lawsuit in 2014 against prosecutors and police for false arrest, violation of due process, conspiracy, three indemnification claims and a custom and policy claim.

An attorney can help a suspect assure that constitutional rights are protected during an arrest and prosecution. Legal representation can also help assure that evidence is challenged.

Source: The Herald Argus, "State supreme court hears arguments in Larkin case," By Kelley Smith, Dec. 26, 2017

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