Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Prosecutor And The Property

The has a report that the Delaware County, Indiana prosecutor is the subject of ethics charges of selling the property of offenders without due process of law:

Four plaintiffs have filed a civil suit against [the prosecutor], the city of Muncie and Delaware County seeking the return of their property, plus damages.

 When Casey Hammond was arrested on a charge of cocaine possession in 2006, he said police seized more than $1,000 and placed his 1986 Pontiac in storage.

 But three years later, when his case was concluded, Hammond said he was told his car had been sold, even though no forfeiture action was ever filed.

 David Cauthen alleges the same happened to him following his 2005 arrest on charges of possession of marijuana. He is seeking the return of $32,000.

 "Yes, all my clients are currently incarcerated or have been prosecuted for criminal cases, but if it can happen to my clients, it can happen to anybody," said Cara Schaefer Wieneke, who also represents Lorenzo Ford and Michael Gilmore. "They are seeking damages for the time they've been without their property. Their rights have been violated under the Constitution. They are also asking for damages for that as well."

 The disciplinary commission's brief of sanction chided [the prosecutor] for ignoring the potential negative impact his actions might have against his primary client, the state of Indiana.

 "It raises questions about the integrity of the office and of the individual and it may cause, in certain instances, a loss of public confidence in the way that our system of administration functions," said legal expert Ron Elberger.

[The prosecutor's] attorney, Kevin McGoff, would not directly address the sanction conclusions but told 6News, "We have 30 days to file a response and we will do so in a timely fashion."

 The commission recommended that McKinney be suspended indefinitely and that he could not apply for reinstatement in less than a year.

 The Indiana Supreme Court will have the final determination on sanctions.

(Mike Frisch)

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