Indiana Supreme Court Urged to Reject Petition for Removal of Judge in Delphi Murders Trial

In the ongoing legal proceedings of the Delphi murders trial, Judge Fran Gull and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita have urged the Indiana Supreme Court to dismiss a petition seeking Gull’s removal from the case. The petition, a writ of mandamus, also calls for the reinstatement of Richard Allen’s original defense team, Bradley Rozzi and Andrew Baldwin. Allen is accused of the murders in the widely-followed Delphi case.

Both Gull and Rokita have labeled the petition as “improper,” stating that Allen should have sought relief through an appeal if he believed Judge Gull had abused her authority by removing his defense attorneys. In his submission, Rokita emphasized that the use of a writ of mandamus to reinstate legal counsel is inappropriate, arguing that the appellate process is the preferred method for such issues.

Allen had not appealed the decision to remove his counsel nor filed a motion to disqualify, despite having opportunities to do so, according to Rokita. Gull reiterated this viewpoint in her response, citing a court ruling that describes writs as a shortcut to an appeal, which is not permissible.

The core issue prompting the writ was Gull’s decision to remove Allen’s original defense team due to “gross negligence.” This decision followed an incident where confidential case materials, specifically crime scene photos, were leaked, leading to the arrest of Mitchell Westerman, a former colleague of Baldwin. Gull concluded that Baldwin and Rozzi committed multiple violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and compromised Allen’s defense.

Both Gull and Rokita refuted Allen’s claim that his Sixth Amendment rights were infringed upon by the removal of his defense team. They argued that while the amendment guarantees representation, it does not entitle a defendant to choose their appointed counsel. Circumstances like “gross incompetence” may necessitate court intervention in a defendant’s choice of counsel.

Gull provided further evidence of Baldwin and Rozzi’s alleged incompetence, including mishandling confidential information, providing false information to the court, and making inappropriate media statements.

During an October 19 meeting, Rozzi and Baldwin claimed they were pressured into withdrawing from the case by Gull. However, Rokita stated that Gull had listed the reasons for considering their disqualification and given them an opportunity to argue against these allegations, which they did not take.

Gull emphasized that she had given Baldwin and Rozzi ample notice about potential disqualification and that their withdrawal rather than challenging the factual allegations supported her decision. She also expressed her intention to ensure that Allen received competent representation, countering claims of bias against him.

In their conclusions, both Gull and Rokita requested the Indiana Supreme Court to deny the writ filed on behalf of Allen. If the court agrees, the trial is expected to proceed in late 2024 with Allen represented by a new set of attorneys.

Author: CrimeDoor

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