Legislation is moving through the Indiana General Assembly that would limit a prosecutor’s ability to decline to file charges in a criminal case.
Republican State Senator Mike Young is authoring legislation that would give concurrent jurisdiction to the Attorney General to prosecute criminal cases in the event a prosecutor declines to file charges in a criminal matter.
Prosecutors opposed the measure saying it would limit their abilities to do their job.
“IPAC is opposed to the bill because we think the bill would limit prosecutorial discretion, which is the Holy Grail for prosecutors, said Dave Powell of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council during testimony to lawmakers. “We have the ability to decide what gets filed and what gets charged and this bill would hinder that ability, in our opinion. Prosecutors at the local level know best how to manage their time, staff and resources. They are also elected and if the voters of that county don’t like what the prosecutor is doing, there is a remedy for that.”
A representative from the Indiana Attorney General’s office said they understood lawmakers frustrations, but stopped short of supporting the proposal. “We understand the legislature’s frustration with prosecutors treating the criminal laws this body passes as optional or mere suggestions, rather than the rule of law. Attorney General Hill is a former elected prosecutor and of course, deeply respects prosecutorial discretion in filing criminal charges,” said Parvonay Stover, Government Affairs Director. ” In his mind, though, that means exercising discretion on a case-by-case basis rather than announcing one’s intention to ignore a particular state law. Our position on SB 436 is neutral – we did not seek out this legislation and feel it’s a policy decision best left to the legislature. That being said, if the General Assembly does pass the bill, then our office will be ready and willing to serve.”
Indy Politics spoke with former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi to get some perspective on the issue. The Leon-Tailored Audio runs about 15 minutes.