The recent resignation of Eugene Anderson, an Indianapolis assistant deputy mayor, appears to illustrate the axiom that political attacks can come full circle.
In mid-September, U.S. Rep. Julia Carson, a Democrat, dropped the news of an old domestic abuse incident involving Eric Dickerson, the Republican challenger for her congressional seat. Dickerson faced preliminary charges of battery and disorderly conduct, but the case was dismissed after his wife and daughter declined to testify.
While the mayor's office would not discuss why Anderson resigned, Deputy Mayor Steve Campbell said Anderson in late September informed chief of staff John Dillon of a 1997 domestic abuse incident. Anderson, who was in charge of special events for Mayor Bart Peterson, a Democrat, resigned shortly thereafter.
Anderson's misdemeanor battery charge may not have shown up in a background check when he was hired in 2002 because he went into a diversion program and later had the charge expunged.
AI noted previously that Dickerson, like Anderson, could have legally had his record expunged. It made much more sense in Dickerson's case because he denied the charges, which were eventually dropped. By entering a diversionary program, Anderson did not contest the charges; rather, he agreed not to commit the same crime again in exchange for leniency. If Anderson had the charge legally expunged, it begs the question of how the arrest became public. It is my reading of the statute which allows defendants to have their criminal records expunged that it is illegal for a law enforcement officer to disclose an expunged record.
There may be another explanation for the public disclosure of Anderson's record. I recently read where criminal defense attorneys are telling their clients that expungment isn't as effective as it once was. That's because numerous databases store arrest records as a service for employers and others checking out a person's criminal background. When a person's arrest record is expunged, it doesn't remove the arrest associated with their name from these other publicly accessible databases. The Marion Co. Juvenile Detention Center was forced to fire another employee this past week because of a previously unknown criminal record. In that case, the employee had legally changed his name and a criminal background check of his current name did not disclose his criminal past.