Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Irsay Let Off The Hook For Hit and Run

First, the Marion Co. Prosecutor's office let Nancy Irsay slide on a very serious driving while under the influence case, now comes word that the Hamilton Co. Prosecutor's office is letting her off the hook altogether for a charge of leaving the scene of an accident. Irsay's case was being prosecuted by deputy prosecutor Barb Trathen so Irsay went out and hired Scott Newman, who doesn't even practice criminal defense work anymore but used to be Trathen's boss and wahlah, the charges are dropped. The Star's James Gillaspy writes:

Despite her incriminating statements after a car crash in November, Nancy Irsay will not be punished for leaving the scene of the accident.

Hamilton County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Barbara J. Trathen has dropped the case against the widow of former Indianapolis Colts owner Robert Irsay. Trathen sought the dismissal after reviewing legal arguments by defense attorneys Eric J. Benner and Scott C. Newman, a new member of Irsay’s legal team and Trathen’s boss when he was Marion County prosecutor and she was one of his deputies.

Irsay, 55, was charged with leaving the scene of the accident at her home on Nov. 8, 2005. Carmel police sent to the 1300 block of W. 116th Street had found her BMW sport utility vehicle at the end of the driveway. Its bumper had been torn off when it entered the roadway and hit a passing truck about 2 p.m.

Initially, Carmel police said, a man in Irsay's employ claimed to have been driving the BMW. About an hour after their arrival, after witnesses had told investigators that a woman was driving, investigators located Irsay and began to question her.

Irsay, who was facing a pending drunken-driving prosecution in Marion County, admitted that she was the driver only after one officer told her that her driver’s license was valid. She said then she would not have left the accident scene if she had known her license was valid, prosecuting and defense attorneys agree.

Benner and Newman claimed Irsay’s admissions are inadmissable, however. They contend the statements were solicited in violation of her Fifth Amendment defense against self-incrimination and before being advised of her Miranda rights as a suspect entitled to legal counsel and a warning that anything she said could be used against her.Defense attorneys also argued that the case should be dismissed because there was no damage to the truck that would require Irsay to remain at the scene, and because her driveway was part of the scene.

Now let's get this straight. There were eyewitness accounts of Irsay hitting the truck while behind the wheel of her BMW, and then leaving the scene of the accident. Why do you even need her own admissions to prosecute her when you have eyewitness evidence from others that she committed the crime? Note that both Trathen and her boss, Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp, were out of town and unavailable for comment. And who said our criminal justice system isn't fair?

12 comments:

kay said...

From the same story AI referenced:

“Since (Irsay’s) property was the scene of the accident, she never left the scene of the accident,” they argued. “By stopping her vehicle, remaining on her property, providing her name and address and exhibiting her driver’s license at the officer’s request, the defendant satisfied every element ... despite being under no obligation to do so.”

Hamilton County, hotbed inequality... funny stuff AI!

Advance Indiana said...

Not so fast Kay. You selectively choose the arguments made by Irsay's attorney and omit the more pertinent facts of the story, which are:

- [her car's] bumper had been torn off when it entered the roadway and hit a passing truck about 2 p.m.
- Initially, Carmel police said, a man in Irsay's employ claimed to have been driving the BMW.
- About an hour after their arrival, after witnesses had told investigators that a woman was driving, investigators located Irsay and began to question her.
- Irsay, who was facing a pending drunken-driving prosecution in Marion County, admitted that she was the driver only after one officer told her that her driver’s license was valid. She said then she would not have left the accident scene if she had known her license was valid, prosecuting and defense attorneys agree.

So let's see. She drives her vehicle in the public roadway, striking a passing truck. She backs the car onto her property, then flees to the safety of her home, leaving a hapless employee to explain things. She does this because she believes she was operating a vehicle with a suspended license. Remember, she refused to take a breathalyzer after her DUI arrest in Indianapolis. That gets you an automatic suspension of your driver's license for a year. After she discovers her driver's license is valid--because her attorneys had obtained continuances for her DUI case for years--she tells police she was driving the car. If you think you or I would have been similarly treated by prosecutors on these set of facts, you are living in a fantasy world.

kay said...

Good grief, the woman backed out of her driveway and clipped an oncoming truck. Damage to the other vehicle and person was below the legal damage level required for reporting. An otherwise unremarkable everyday fender bender, except that it occurred at the residence of…which now makes it big news!

My opinion—not that it matters in the least—is that Irsay was unnecessarily investigated and charged because of who she is and not the other way around.

Enough already...

Advance Indiana said...

Your obviously not familiar with the Irsay estate. She drove out of her private drive onto a public roadway. The home sits quite a distance from the main road. There was little damage to the other vehicle because it was a sizeable truck. Her car's bumper was torn off. I nosed out onto College Avenue a few years ago to see if any traffic was coming because a building obstructed my view--only to have my front bumper taken off by a city bus. I didn't drive off. I stayed at the scene and was issued a ticket. There was no damage to the city bus. Do you want to go for strike 3 Kay?

kay said...

So, Gary /AI, did your fender bender make the newspaper, broadcast news, local blogs...

(Btw, I'm really not looking to 'strike you out'; rather, just chat a bit about differences of opinion. Really no need to get all carried away / unnecessarily defensive.

Advance Indiana said...

No it didn't Kay. But being that I'm an attorney, I would have been in a heap of trouble had I left the scene, and it would have probably been in the newspaper for that reason alone. With hugs and kisses, that's strike 3 Kay-you're out.

Anonymous said...

It figures that Scott Newman was involved in getting her off. When he was prosecutor, he had several deputy prosecutors working their butts off investigating a riverboat casino and then suddenly dropped the case. When he left the prosecutor's office, he became a partner at the law firm defending the riverboat casino. Coincidental?

kay said...

What a hoot...last I knew the pitcher didn't getta umpire the game. Oh well, guess I'm just out of my league.

...sweet dreams.

Advance Indiana said...

Always happy to enterain you Kay.

Anonymous said...

Gary/AI is right on. Kay, are you kidding? You cant be serious in defending this.

kay said...

Anonymous 8:27. Though not as seriously / harshly delivered as AI’s judgment, my point-of-view is sincere. My comments were meant simply to say that I did not perceive the Irsay incident to be as simple, significant or as continually newsworthy s presented.

David said...

I am an ex employee of mrs irsay and I can tell you she does not drink alcohol at all.