Saturday, September 08, 2007

Brizzi Reputation Damaged By Juvenile Center Debacle

Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's investigation and subsequent attempts at prosecuting ten juvenile center workers accused of sexual misconduct and abuse ended disastrously for his office, with only one conviction, two acquittals and charges dropped against seven others. The Star's Jon Murray is asking in a front-page story: What went wrong? Brizzi says his office did nothing wrong. "These witnesses were either lying when they gave their statements or they are lying now," Brizzi said in explaining the changed accounts offered by the alleged victims. IU criminal law professor Henry Karlson sees it differently:

One legal expert and some of the exonerated men say there was a key breakdown: the claims of the victims, all girls ages 13 to 16, were never properly sewn up. Prosecutors moved ahead based on interviews by investigators but didn't require the girls to give sworn statements or testify before a grand jury.

"You've just got to get it under oath," said Professor Henry Karlson, who teaches criminal law at Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis. "If they're not willing to give you a sworn statement, then you know you have a problem from the beginning."

Nine of the 10 men walked away without convictions, but not without damage to their reputations and anger over the year or more they spent fending off the charges . . .

The allegations had to be taken seriously, Karlson said. But prosecutors had to be mindful that recanting is more common in such cases, he said, and that the accusers' criminal histories could hurt their credibility.

A grand jury or the use of signed affidavits could have safeguarded the cases, Karlson said.

Those steps allow the prosecutor to hold up the threat of perjury charges against a wavering witness.

Brizzi points to the positive changes which came about at the juvenile center as a result of the criminal probe. "The criminal charges spurred leadership changes and extensive security upgrades at the center," Murray writes. "Brizzi points to those and the exposure of other problems as positive results." That may be the case, but I suspect this is one case Brizzi will have a difficult time shaking when people assess his success or failure as the county's prosecutor, fair or not.


Anonymous said...

And now the bungled "charges" against the officer that appear to be headed no where. Way to go Brizzi.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Brizzi know how to run the prosecutor's office?

Anonymous said...

So who will the Star interview for an academic legal opinion when Karlson retires next year?

Anonymous said...

Brizzi won't make the next slating. He has dropped the ball and proven he is not an effective nor worthy prosecutor. First he couldn't get a conviction on a guy who was hiding evidence of child abuse in his desk drawer for Obstruction of Justice, then he charges a police officer with criminal battery for using necessary and controlled force on a violent criminal that resulted in the criminal stopping his resistance.

No, Carl, this precinct committeeman cannot support you for slating ever again.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to add that Brizzi has been declining to file charges more than any recent prosecutor. His refusal to file charges (especially drug charges) adds to our crime problem here, because criminal that are effectively caught don't stand trial.

Brizzi instead tries to build some high-profile cases for his file, and bundles them.

I agree with the above poster about Brizzi charging a police officer with criminal battery for using necessary force on a violent criminal putting more egg on Brizzi's face.

Brizzi went high-profile with the juvenile center cases, then couldn't get a conviction. He also went high-profile and charged a police officer (in a move I have to question). I do not for a second think that Brizzi can get a conviction on that one either.

Brizzi is not filing charges on good cases, letting criminals go by inept case preparation, and destroying his working relationship with police in an attempt to get publicity.

Brizzi is a political hot potato. As that prior poster mentioned, I, too, do not believe the Republican party can put Brizzi on the slate if they want to keep a Republican in that office.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if Brizzi spent less time sniffing Peyton Manning's jock strap in the Bahamas after the SuperBowl, and actually managed and led his office, this lapse of professional conduct (letting criminal defendants go scot-free because of lack of swearingin "victims") along with the totally inappropriate charging of IMPD Officer Chappell..might have been avoided.


Anonymous said...

Why is everyone blaming Brizzi? That man doesn't set foot inside of a courtroom unless there are cameras present, and then only to mug for them!

When is the last time Brizzi tried a case? The guy who tried to kill the confidential informant while being recorded. Who could lose a case like that? And he only sat second chair on that one!

The prosecutor's office is rapidly approaching a standard for filing cases:
1. The case gets media coverage and we have to do something.
2. This case might get media coverage so we need to look like we are doing something.
3. This case is a slam dunk winner and won't impact our conviction rate and won't hurt Carl's numbers in the next election, for whatever office he runs for.

Never mind that many cases that are borderline can be made winners by proper investigation by the assigned detectives and the deputy prosecutor.

I wasn't crazy about Melina Kennedy as a candidate, but the major knock on her was that she didn't not have major prosecutorial experience. True, but how much does Brizzi have? A year or so before he got elected?

And before anyone says that the office of Prosecutor is an elected position, and really just and administrative role, you need to remember that Scott Newman never shied away from the hard cases. He was right there, putting his reputation on the line to fight the hard fight, win or lose.

If only we had someone with balls now.

Anonymous said...

First some of you complain that the prosecutor's office will only take on slam dunk cases, then you complain that the prosecutor will never get a conviction on the police officer and shouldn't have filed charges in the juvenile center case. Which is it, the prosecutor won't take tough cases or he will? Make up your mind. And as for Professor Karlson, the only people in this city that think he is any kind of criminal law expert are the TV stations and the newspaper, because he always gives them something they can use. Anybody that had Karlson as a professor (as I did) knows that he has no real-world experience and isn't even licensed to practice law in this state. He is nothing more than an academic that can easily tell you how things should have gone after the fact. Doesn't take much expertise to monday-morning quarterback. Let's not forget that the prosecutor's cases are only as good as the investigation that was conducted by the law enforcement agency that brings him the case. Considering the state of disarray that IMPD is currently in it's no wonder that convictions are difficult to obtain. Does anybody out there really think we would be better off with Melina Kennedy running things? I certainly don't.

Anonymous said...

What should have Brizzi done differently here? Not believe the girls when they tell him they were raped and or sexual abused? If he did that then everyone here would be bitching about that. And as for swearing in the girls the thing that wouldn’t have changed the outcome of these cases. If the prosecutor’s went into court with an uncooperative witness who was going to get on the stand and say that nothing happened, it wouldn’t matter if they had some prior sworn statement. All that a sworn statement would do would allow the prosecutor to file perjury charges against the girls. Is that really what you’re advocating? Criminally charging sexual abuse victims who recant their story? I am sorry but that’s just wrong.

Anonymous said...

Brizzi can only serve two terms so the question of his running again is moot. I keep hearing that he is interested in running for mayor when his term expires. That is just what we need is that idiot as mayor.

Anonymous said...

Brizzi can only serve two terms so the question of his running again is moot.....

4:24 PM EST

Uh, 4:24, you are wrong. There is no constitutional or statutory prohibition against multiple terms for a prosecutor. Seems like somebody here has a short memory, since Steve Goldsmith served three terms as Marion County Prosecutor. Noble Pearcy served at least three terms prior to that. And Lance Hamner is now in his 4th or 5th term as Johnson County Prosecutor. Too bad we still don't have a two term limit on the Mayor of Indianapolis like it was before the "Hudnut Forever" crowd got that law amended. Then we wouldn't have to worry about the chance that Bart's crowd will continue to run this city into the ground.

Anonymous said...

um, there is no term limit on prosecutors in the state of indiana. whether we'll be better off if Brizzi doesn't run is a different story. but there isn't anything legally keep him from doing so.

and hats off to 1:10pm. henry "the K" karlson has zero trial experience himself. its easy to point fingers and say "brizzi doesn't know what he's doing." but unless you have actually tried a case, and really until you've tried at least 20 criminal jury trials, you have no business saying what someone else should, can or can't do in a court room. and that goes for "trial lawyers" who practice civil law by taking depositions and answering interrogatories.

the other point is well taken. you get the girls pinned down under oath, and at trial the defense attacks the state by saying they're testifying to avoid perjury charges or false reporting. no win either way.

if the juvenile system has made changes for the better, then its a win. all the talk about convictions rates are without merit. you can call anything a win if you want to. need a higher conviction rate? plead your cases down or don't file the bad cases. need a higher jury trial win rate? dump the garbage and pull your offers on the good cases. "conviction rate" is a hollow term for those ignorant of the criminal justice system. like karlson.

and the fact that brizzi has tried few cases is incidental. goldsmith, like melina kennedy, had never stepped foot into a criminal court room before being elected. i never saw newman try a case that wasn't a slam dunk either when he was prosecutor.

a bigger story might be office morale, not conviction rates. but neither the media nor anyone at IMPD would understand that...

Sir Hailstone said...

This the same moonbat Henry Karlson that was quoted in the Ryerson Rag referring to law enforcement as an "occupying Army"??

Thought so.

Anonymous said...

Why are people saying that Karlson has no experience? He's a Vietnam Vet and was a JAG officer in the US Army. It's also not unusual at all for legal professors to not be admitted to the bar of where they are teaching. People seem to forget that Karlson stood nearly alone with Ruth Holladay in supporting Bill Bradford.

This seems to be a case of "I don't like what you say and I'm too immature to disagree like an adult, so I'm just going to smear you."

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Brizzi is too busy working Rudy's campaign. Hey Carl! Indy is burning!!!!

Anonymous said...

AGAIN, When is Brizzi going to prosecute Carl Drummer?

Anonymous said...

Again, when is Brizzi going to Bull Doze the peashake houses?

Anonymous said...

When is Brizzi going to arrest Monroe Gary and Senator Glenn Howard for obstruction of justice?

Anonymous said...

Politicians involved in illegal gambling rings and major drug trafficking and he's going after juvenile detainees who allege wrong doing, but with NO affidavits.

Anonymous said...

"People seem to forget that Karlson stood nearly alone with Ruth Holladay in supporting Bill Bradford".

Would that be the same Bill Bradford that was exposed as a complete fraud when his lies about his military service were revealed? Not sure that "standing with Bill Bradford" is exactly evidence of any kind of good judgement on the part of Professor Karlson.

And the commenter who discussed how conviction rates can be manipulated is dead on. Whenever I heard a deputy prosecutor (and I have known over a hundred in the last 30 years) brag about his or her 90something jury trial winning percentage all that told me is that they were only trying the cases that they couldn't lose and were pleading down or dismissing everything else. In criminal litigation there are only two reasons why a case should ever go to jury trial anyway. One is the very high profile capital murder case, where no plea offers are made nor solicited. The other is when one party is being unreasonable, either by making an onerous plea offer or by refusing to accept a fair offer.

Anonymous said...

Rudy at least was pretty agressive as a prosecutor, too bad Carl doesn't try to emulate his hero.

Anonymous said...

Don't go there with Rudy...New Yorkers in the know have a far different story. Ambition in a suit.

Prof. Karlson is, indeed, a moonbat. Everyone's known that for years.

And, whoever said it's "normal" for law professors not to be admitted to the bar? Check your facts.

Brizzi is a complete and total failure. He should've known that he was dealing with liquid dynamite--teenaged potential felons, whose credibility is in question, likely were abused, but he needed stronger cases.

I strongly suspect these kids were abused. The officers charged knew they could likely get away with it, and, from what I've been told, it went on for over a decade while Judge Payne was in charge. And he was repeatedly told it was happening.

These cases are next to impossible to prove. Brizzi knows that. Yet he soought massive publicity on flimsy cases.

He ought to be ashamed. But he has no shame.

Anonymous said...

"People seem to forget that Karlson stood nearly alone with Ruth Holladay in supporting Bill Bradford".

Would that be the same Bill Bradford that was exposed as a complete fraud when his lies about his military service were revealed? Not sure that "standing with Bill Bradford" is exactly evidence of any kind of good judgement on the part of Professor Karlson.

No, I'm pointing out that Karlson isn't the "flaming liberal" that some posters here would make him out to be.

I said it was not unusual for law school professors to not be admitted to the bar of the state they are teaching in. Karlson is admitted to the same bar that Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is, that of the state of Illinois.

At most quality law schools, the majority of the faculty likely don't come from in-state. It would be a waste of time (and money) for them to prepare to sit for the bar of that state when they're not going to be practicing law, but teaching it. If they desire to appear before a court for some reason, it makes much more sense for them to be admitted pro hac vice.

Here's a quick analysis of those holding full or endowed professorships at IU School of Law-Bloomington:

A=Admitted in Indiana
NA=Not admitted in Indiana


Only 9 of 28 (32%) are admitted to the bar of Indiana. This isn't in any way indicative of their ability to teach, or of the quality of their teaching; it merely demonstrates that it is not unusual for law school professors to not be admitted to the state they are teaching in.

Anonymous said...

But the point is, admitted or not to the Indiana bar, Karlson and others who do not actually prosecute these cases have no business telling those who do how to do it. The charging decision and how to proceed is something a professor who knows only theory can never understand. And its so easy for Karlson and his types to act like they do understand and know what they are talking about. And even easier for them to make the uninformed communities to take what they say as gospel, because, heck, they're "professors".

Law school doesn't teach you how to try cases. It makes you think a certain way for 3 years. If Karlson and other critics of Brizzi want to gain any credibility in their attacks, again I say come on down to court, get dirty, and try some cases. Otherwise, keep the educated opinions to yourselves. You just have no idea what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

In thinking further, that last line does nothing to promote what people who read these blogs seek: open discussion about events surrounding the community. I apologize. What should be said is this: Karlson's perspective is just that. A single perspective. Its important for the reader to understand that. His opinions and those who so vehemently criticize the prosecution (or defense for that matter) bother me because they're speaking from positions of misunderstanding and lack of experience to paint a clear picture of what is happening in a given case.

They certainly are free to express their opinion. It would be nice, though, for an opinion such as Karlson's to be qualified in the article as that of an academic, which plays a very small (if any), part of the process. Cases live and die based on how they are tried and defended in court. Not on theory taught in the classroom.