Sunday, July 12, 2009

Indiana Prosecutors' in Legal Trouble

Two county prosecutor's in Indiana are now in trouble with the law for allegedly violating the very laws they swore to obey and uphold. Unlike ordinary citizens and residents, those in law enforcement are required to affirm or swear that they will obey and uphold the laws. This places a special burden or higher standard upon them to obey the laws. Many of them don't and this past week two have been in the news for, what appears to be, having been caught at it.

County Prosecutor practicing without a license.

First, I'll start with the most egregious. Newton County Prosecuting Attorney J. Edward Barce has had a Complaint for Disciplinary Action filed against him by the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission on 13 “factual allegations,” according to the commission’s Executive Secretary Donald Lundberg. Apparently Barce has been acting as the Newton County Prosecuting Attorney without having a law license in good standing in the state of Indiana.

Indiana Code 3-8-1-19 requires that “a candidate for the office of prosecuting attorney must be admitted to the practice of law in the state before the election, as provided in Article 7, Section 16 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana.” An attorney who's been placed on inactive status may not use his or her Indiana law license to practice law. Indiana Code 33-43-2-1 makes it a crime for “a person [to] profess to be a practicing attorney, conduct the trial of a case in a court in Indiana or engage in the business of a practicing lawyer without first having been admitted as an attorney by the supreme court.” However, Barce's law license was placed on inactive status on August 5, 2005 and was not reinstated until February 23, 2009 therefore leaving him without admission to the practice of law during that time.

While not being admitted to lawfully practice law in Indiana Barce's office filed more than 1,000 criminal felony and misdemeanor cases in the Newton Circuit and Superior Courts and disposed of more than 1,000 cases that had been pending in the courts. The fact that Barce’s law license was inactive was brought to light on February 19, in a Lake County courtroom where he was serving as a special prosecutor. Gary defense lawyer Carl Jones who was defending Jerome Taylor, accused of trafficking with an inmate, questioned Barce's license status.

Superior Court Judge Dan Molter said he was unaware of the license issue with Barce before reading about the allegations in a Lake County newspaper. The defendants in the cases prosecuted by Barce's office while he was practicing without an active license in good standing should now be able to challenge their convictions.

Marion County deputy prosecutor arrested on multiple offenses

WISH-TV in Indianapolis reported the following yesterday. Gillian Deprez, a Marion County Deputy Prosecutor, is facing several charges after Metro police officers arrested her for drunk driving early Saturday morning. Investigators say a breath test showed her blood alcohol level at .15.

According to police Deprez hit a car on 61st Street between Winthrop and Guilford then drove away. When an officer pulled her over and gave her a sobriety test she failed all three parts.


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