Saturday, October 31, 2009

State Rep. Ed DeLaney Brutally Beaten By Indianapolis Man

State Rep. Ed DeLaney thought he was meeting a prospective client in Carmel to discuss a land purchase. Instead, a 38-year-old Indianapolis man armed with a gun, Augustus J. Mendenhall, brutally attacked him for reasons that are unclear. Lucky for DeLaney, Mendenhall's gun jammed before he could get off a shot. Mendenhall then began beating DeLaney. Carmel police apprehended Mendenhall after someone who witnessed the attack called police. Mendenhall has been charged with several felonies, including attempted murder. "The attack shocked Ann DeLaney, who at first thought the call from the Carmel Police Department was a joke," writes the Star's Carrie Ritchie. "This is so inexplicable," Ann DeLaney said. "We're still trying to figure out what this is all about." Rep. DeLaney suffered multiple broken bones in and around his eye according to the report. Otherwise, his wife says he's doing well under medical care. Best wishes to Rep. DeLaney for a speedy recovery. The Indiana Law Blog speculates on the identity of Mendenhall as being a fellow Indianapolis attorney, who the Roll of Attorneys indicates was admitted last year to practice law.

UPDATE: Ruth Holladay has a possible motive for the attack. She blogs that it had something to do with the closure of Mendenhall's father's business, a porn store, way back in 1983 according to her source. WRTV has now confirmed what Holladay blogged. Here's what they say about the old case, which apparently involved Ed's wife, Ann DeLaney, who was a deputy prosecutor for then Marion Co. Prosecutor Steve Goldsmith:

Speculation has centered around an old court case from 1983 that involved Mendenhall's father, Burke Mendenhall, who owned a building in the 4200 block of West 38th Street in which he intended to set up an adult bookstore.

According to court records, the Marion County prosecutor at the time, Steven Goldsmith, directed the Indianapolis Police Department to "lock, seal and secure" the bookstore on Mendenhall's property.

There was a long, drawn out court battle that lasted six years. DeLaney's wife was deputy prosecutor at the time.
UPDATE II: The Star's Kevin O'Neal sheds more light on the background of this case. It turns out that Ed DeLaney had represented the DeBartolo Group that used to own Lafayette Square Mall before the Simon Property Group acquired the company. The company's owners did not want Mendenhall's father to lease property he owned to a tenant that planned to operate an adult bookstore near their property. Goldsmith, then the prosecutor, filed a civil RICO action that allowed Goldsmith and the police to seize the tenant's business. The seizure was upheld by our state's Supreme Court; however, the U.S. Supreme Court later overturned that decision, saying Mendenhall's constitutional rights had been violated on grounds of prior restraint. Mendenhall later lost a civil lawsuit in federal district court against Goldsmith when the court ruled he was immune from civil liability for his actions as prosecutor.

The last time I drove up in that area there is an adult video store, Southern Nights Video, that has operated for many years immediately south of Lafayette Square along 38th Street and Commercial Drive. Goldsmith's actions seem a bit extreme, if not troubling, in retrospect. He's lucky Mendenhall's son didn't direct his anger at him instead of DeLaney. One could have gotten the impression that because DeLaney's wife worked for the prosecutor's office, he was able to leverage his law firm's political clout (he then worked for Barnes & Thornburg) with that office to get the most extreme governmental action possible against Mendenhall's father to produce the outcome his client desired.

There's also another interesting connection between Ed's wife, Ann, and Goldsmith. Early in the administration of then Gov. Evan Bayh, Ann was accused of offering two state legislators state jobs in consideration for a vote on legislation backed by Bayh while she was lobbying on behalf of Bayh. Goldsmith declined to prosecute her. Interestingly, we also learn that Mendenhall interned in the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office for two years recently while he was completing his law school studies.

UPDATE III: The Indiana Law Blog has an update on DeLaney's medical condition and the news is good.


Paul K. Ogden said...

If it's Mendenhall the attorney, he has a Plainfield address on the Roll of Attorneys. It appears to be a home address that is given.

Anonymous said...

This is bizarre and inexplicable -- and I must remind myself that the accused has not been tried in court yet.
At the St. Thomas Aquinas Sausage Fest, Ed Delaney volunteered to be the 'victim' in the Dunk Tank. And it was a cool evening. You gotta love a guy who'll do that.

Paul K. Ogden said...

The Star identified Mendenhall as an attorney.

That Mendenhall had a home address listed on the roll of attorneys suggests that as a relatively new attorney (he was sworn in a year ago) he might have been unemployed or working out of his home. (Almost all attorneys list their work address on the roll of attorneys.)

Not that that is the reason for his behavior, but I see all the time the frustration of these new attorneys who have borrowed as much as $100,000 to get a law degree only to find out there are no jobs in the law profession and, if they do find work, associate salaries can be extremely low, as little as $30K a year with no or few benefits.

I would be of the "buyer beware" school except for the fact law schools promote a law school education with phony average salaries and employment numbers.

FYI, few years ago, a new Indiana attorney, Bruce Davidson, went on a bank robbery spree out west.

interestedparty said...

Back when, certain career disciplines, physical therapy comes to mind, were capped in ways that had to do with available slots in professional schools. My friends in the field said that meant there would always be jobs for them and the jobs would pay well. On the one hand, limiting the numbers of people in a field may seem discriminatory, but on the other hand, it seems wise.

Law may be slightly different, as the knowledge could be very useful in a number of ways throughout one's life. But if you count on making a living on it, it appears there may be another story.

What surprises me, in cases like this and the one cited as a bank robber-lawyer, since I must be naive, is that knowing the law and being licensed to practice it, is not necessarily a path to justice, promoting law and order, or the public good.

Advance Indiana said...

Unfortunately, Your observations are on point with the legal profession, interested party. It seems too many people can get into law school and get admitted to the bar despite past problems that would indicate the person is unfit to practice law. Problems in undergraduate school and past employment are often overlooked, not to mention criminal arrests.

Paul K. Ogden said...

"...the knowledge could be very useful in a number of ways throughout one's life. But if you count on making a living on it, it appears there may be another story."

Interestedparty, you are exactly right...the knowledge one get from being a lawyer is extremely useful in other fields. However, employers don't see it that way. The minute you get that law degree, you are pigenonholed as an attorney. Most employers won't consider you for any non-attorney position. They think attorneys will quit and get a six figure job any time they want so why give them a five figure job in a management position, for example? Of course that perception of attorney job prospects is not the reality.

I too hate the idea of artificially limiting the number of people entering a certain field. We can stop short of tat by simply making law schools honestly tell people what job prospects will be for graduates. The trouble is there is a great emphasis on law schools phonying up their numbers to improve their ratings. There is no audit or any way of checking the numbers.

When I asked the law school about the surveys that support their estimates, I was told that many, if not most, people don't return their surveys and for those people the law school estimates their salaries. I can assure you they are not estimating low.

I feel really bad, because law schools suck many of these people to borrow six figures to get a law degree. Then they find that their degree does not at all increase their job prospects and in fact may limit them.

For example, I know a semi truck driver who is a lawyer, and a postal carrier who is a lawyer. Both went back to their pre-law school jobs because they paid more than what they could get in the legal profession.

Advance Indiana said...

Paul, I think that postal carrier guy must be the same guy who provided legal advice to a woman when she was sued along with her ex-husband for something her ex-husband did. He told her to ignore it, which resulted in her getting a default judgment. Her insurance company's lawyer then had to try to get the six-figure judgment set aside, only to be turned down by one of our Marion County superior court judges.

Anonymous said...

Not that that is the reason for his behavior, but I see all the time the frustration of these new attorneys who have borrowed as much as $100,000 to get a law degree only to find out there are no jobs in the law profession and, if they do find work, associate salaries can be extremely low, as little as $30K a year with no or few benefits.

Unfortunately, these sorts of incidents are likely to become more widespread, just like K-college campus shootings. Lt. David Grossman has said it best:

"The kids who gave us Jonesboro in the middle school and Columbine in the high school are now giving us Virginia Tech in the colleges. I hope I am wrong, but I predicted that we would see these kids in the college, and now I predict that soon we will see them in the workplace. If there is a major downturn in the economy, and we lay off 20 million Americans, they will make you feel their pain."

It is very scary, given how the younger generation (I would say late 30s and younger) have been raised. Every five year generation was raised more and more lax if you ask me. Currently, we give out ribbons to everyone...there are no losers. Too much high school and college education has been pushed to "group learning" or "group products." We are destroying, in my opinion, the teaching of leaders, of winners, etc.. This is especially true when the political climate running this country is one of hate the rich, hate profits, hate success...unless it is government that is making the money, being successful, and making them and theirs personally wealthy.

The more this country gives a pass on horrible, horrible actions....there will be some individuals that have a perceived injustice are likely to strike out with violence. The future is scary if you ask me.

Oh, does anyone has contacts/time to see if this guy had a state license to carry a handgun?

swan said...

All the more reason to be wary of strangers, learn to defend yourself, and carry a gun.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Gary, there used to be a porno store in one of the free standing buildings north of 38th street, behind the mall. There are two such buildings. One is now an Ovation store and I can't recall the other one. One of them used to be a porno store.

One of the reports said the store would be in the mall. I don't think that's right. Another makes it sound like the store never opened. If it is the one I'm thinking about it was open for a year or so. I used to see it when I would take the shortcut behind the mall to Georgetown Road.

Advance Indiana said...

Paul, One of the news reports showed a picture of the building in question. It was not in the mall.