Sunday, November 15, 2009

Another Odd Twist In DeLaney Versus Mendenhall

The Indiana Lawyer's Jennifer Nelson reveals a new fact in the decades old dispute between the DeLaney family and the Mendenhall family, which culminated in an attack by 38-year-old Augustus "Gus" Mendenhall on State Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) on Halloween Day that left DeLaney with serious bodily injuries. When the younger Gus Mendenhall finished law school in 2008, you'll never guess who was assigned to conduct Gus' character and fitness examination for admission to the Indiana bar. That would be Kathleen DeLaney, daughter of Ed. "He requested a different attorney because he claimed he had a conflict of interest," Nelson writes. Can you blame him?

When I faced my character and fitness examination back in 1993, a prominent, semi-retired attorney who lived on the City's far northside conducted my interview. I met him at his home, and we sat on his sun porch on the back side of his house while he interviewed me. It was easy to respect this individual and understand why he had been selected by the Indiana Supreme Court to interview candidates for admission to the bar. Gus Mendenhall had to be enraged by the thought that that the young Kathleen DeLaney would be given this task. As he perceived it, Kathleen's parents had used their political clout to convince the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office to illegally seize his father's property and deprive him of it for years. When he finally got his property back many years later, he was told by our court system there was no remedy to compensate him for the damages he sustained from the illegal seizure because the prosecutor was immune from prosecution. And as he prepared to enter the legal profession, the person who would stand in judgment of him was the daughter of the two prominent political insiders who he believed had put his family through a living hell.

Nelson's story notes that Ed DeLaney was not a party to the lawsuit then-Marion Co. Prosecutor Steve Goldsmith brought against Gus' father, relying on Indiana's civil RICO statute. Ed's client, the DeBartolo Group, owned Lafayette Square mall and had sought to enforce a restrictive covenant against Mendenhall's father, who owned the building and had leased some of the space to another business that operated an adult bookstore. Nelson omits the fact that DeLaney's wife, Ann, worked as the head of the sex crimes unit within the prosecutor's office during the legal battle against his father. After Mendenhall's arrest, Ann DeLaney repeated the false claim to area reporters that Mendenhall's father was a pornographer in reference to the old case, an unfair characterization that Gus had complained about when he met with reporters following his arrest. There is a bit of irony in Mendenhall's father's property being seized using a law intended to aid prosecutors in combating organized crime. Edward DeBartolo, Sr., whose company was represented by Ed DeLaney, had long been suspected of having ties to organized crime. The DeBartolo family had to give up control of the San Francisco Forty-Niners after Edward DeBartolo, Jr. pleaded guilty in charges arising out of the federal bribery and corruption case against former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.

Nelson's story quotes from a probable cause affidavit stating that Gus Mendenhall had used the name "Victor White" when he first contacted Ed DeLaney about representing a Russian business interest in the purchase of property in Carmel. "He claimed he was looking at the property on behalf of wealthy Russian businessmen," Nelson writes. "Because DeLaney occasionally has Russian clients and is fluent in Russian, he didn't think it seemed suspicious." Nelson omits Mendenhall's claim to reporters that his "Russian clients" were interested in laundering money for the Russian mob or the fact that DeLaney had attended spy school while serving in the Navy during the 1960s. "When they met, Augustus Mendenhall was wearing a wig, gloves and a strange coat," she writes. He was also carrying a bag. It's unclear why DeLaney didn't simply drive off from the parking lot where they met after he had an opportunity to observe his strange appearance.

Mendenhall will have to face the serious criminal felony charges filed against him in Hamilton County, including attempted murder, with the assistance of a court-appointed public defender according to Nelson. His trial is set for March 2, 2010. The fact that Mendenhall won't be receiving any sympathetic coverage from the local news media was self-evident during last week's broadcast of "Indiana Week In Review", which is moderated by WISH-TV's Jim Shella and where one of the show's panelists is Ann DeLaney. Jim Shella falsely stated during the show that Mendenhall confessed to the attempted murder charge. "The attacker has confessed." The fact is that Mendenhall never confessed to the crime of attempted murder, an impression Shella clearly tried to leave with his listeners. It was an awkward discussion for the panelists because of Ann's presence on the panel that was obviously not going to lead to a fair and open discussion of the events that occurred on Halloween Day and the 25-year-old case among the panelists. Moments before taking up this discussion, Shella and the panel discussed the passage of the Wishard referendum. There was no disclosure to listeners that panelist Mike McDaniels works for a law firm that is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to do work for the Health & Hospital Corporation. Yeah, the deck is stacked against folks like the Mendenhalls.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Having Kathleen Delaney assigned to do Mendenhall's character and fitness exam would be a huge coincidence. At least some inquiries should be made to make sure this was just a coincidence.

When he complained, he should have been given another attorney. That's a no brainer. That also raises suspicions.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the deck is stacked against folks like the Mendenhalls.

Yes, and this country will likely see more of these types of crimes, especially if the economy gets worse. Otherwise intelligent, good people can easily snap and strike out against those they perceive (rightly or wrongly) as the wrongdoer. Thankfully this guy aimed his hatred toward a very specific individual. Once he found out that he could gain access to the daughter of his then planned victim, he could have changed his plans and decided to target her instead. Scary.

Lt. Col. USA (ret) Dave Grossman, has made comments that we are likely to see more revenge attacks in the future, especially if the economy really tanks and some people don't know how to cope with the new living standard of the US of A. He says that some people will make sure others feel their pain.

varangianguard said...

Attorneys have a "character and fitness" before the Indiana Bar?

Which "bar" is that? The Living Room Lounge?

Reminds me of the classic movie The Princess Bride where Inigo tells Vizzini, "I do not think [that word] means what you think it means".

Like most legalese, it doesn't actually say anything about it having to be "good" character or fitness.

I could run with this all afternoon (snort, sncker).

Sean Shepard said...

In foreign policy terms what happened to Ed would be called "blowback" (a CIA term for "oh, yeah, we pissed some people off a while back and it just bit us in the ass).

It was an egregious act, but not without a root cause or action in which somebody felt wronged and that ultimately led them there.

The Russian mafia angle on this story is definitely worth investigating. But the primary witness is probably none to credible at this point.

Mateland3 said...

If you want the real story about what happened just let me know. I've been best friends with Augustus for 23 years.

Anonymous said...

The deck is stacked against us all.

1. Illegal search and seizure with according to the court no compensation. The other issue with that is that if the search was illegal, why was the property not returned immediately and the case thrown out? More disturbing is that we as citizens have no recourse and no one to watch governmental offices? If the police do not do things above board then to me that means there is no law and order.

2. Kathleen Delaney should have removed herself from the fitness exam. Since she did not that tells me that she was appointed to do the job, or it was a reminder to Gus that the Delaney's still have power. The way I read it. What I find funny here is that Gus did not point out the impropriety, but rather stated he had the conflict of interest. That speaks volumes to his character vs. the Delaney's. That doesn't sound like someone who was enraged, but most likely disgusted by the arrangement.

3. DeLaney's wife, Ann, worked as the head of the sex crimes unit within the prosecutor's office during the legal battle against his father. I don't find that a coincidence either.

What Gus did wasn't right. So that begs the question of why? What happened to push him to that end?

Other disturbing items:

1. Local media is not dispensing all facts.
2. There are serious inappropriate things in the history of Gus's father's case. That is a huge red flag! Not only will we take your property illegally, but we'll also drag the case out to deplete you of your ability to defend yourself.
3. Delaney met on the pretense that Russian's wanted to launder money, IF this is a true fact. Given the history of the connections I find it probable.

Other thoughts:
Dave Grossman, has made comments that we are likely to see more revenge attacks in the future.
Sounds like there is a simple solution to this. Treat others as you would like to be treated and become intimately familiar with morals and do not abuse your power.

I think Gus went into law to bring these types of things into light.

Calbo said...

I met Augustus in the Air Force. We became extremely close friends more that 20 years ago. "Aug". And you are correct this story is a hell of a lot deeper than the media reported