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Supreme Court allows Delphi murders suspect to keep original attorneys

Indiana Supreme Court sides with Richard Allen

BREAKING: On Jan. 18, The Indiana Supreme Court published the following order: “The relator, Richard Allen, seeks relief from this Court under the Rules of Procedure for Original Actions. Relator has requested a permanent writ of mandamus asking this Court to: (1) order the trial court to reinstate his former trial counsel, attorneys Andrew Baldwin and Brad Rozzi, as his court-appointed counsel; (2) order the trial court to commence Relator’s trial within 70 days from the issuance of the writ; and (3) remove the special judge from Relator’s case and appoint a new special judge. Having considered the written submissions and having heard the arguments of counsel, a majority of the Court votes to GRANT the petition for writ as to Relator’s request to reinstate attorneys Baldwin and Rozzi as his court-appointed counsel. The Court unanimously DENIES all other relief sought. The Court will promptly issue a written opinion explaining its reasons. The pendency of this matter in this Court does not stay the proceedings in the trial court. Done at Indianapolis, Indiana, on 1/18/2024.”

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Supreme Court made their decision just hours after hearing oral arguments in the case.

Both sides fielded tough question from the panel of 5 judges.

The Attorney representing Richard Allen argued that the decision by Judge Fran Gull violated his 6th amendment constitutional rights.

“My client was entitled to a jury trial today. My clients entitled to a jury trial with affected lawyers that he’s spent a year and three months developing a well thought out strategy of third party guilt and a speedy trial to catch that prosecutor on their back foot and it was blown out of the water from a judge who exceeded her authority. This is an interference of council and this is the right to counsel itself, because the right to counsel is meaningless if a judge can say, ‘stop all work. I know you’ve got a relationship going on. Stop it all until you come into my chambers.’ And then says, ‘You’re off the case whether we go into the courtroom, or you stay in here. You’re off the case,’” said Mark Leeman.

In October Judge Fran Gull called Allen’s attorney’s Andrew Baldwin and Brad Rozzi grossly negligent in the wake of a leak of crime scene photos and evidence.

In defense of her decision to oust Baldwin and Rozzi her attorney, Matt Gutwein, leaned heavily on a 1988 supreme court case Wheat v. United States. That case covers when a judge can remove a defendants attorney’s when there is a conflict of interest. Several judges on the state supreme court questioned whether that case applied to this situation.

“What can you point to in the record that supports a finding that these lawyers were ineffective to the point where they needed to be removed to protect the rites of Mr. Allen,” asked Justice Mark Massa of the Indiana Supreme Court.

“Again, under Wheat there doesn’t have to be a finding that they were actually ineffective. What there has to be a finding of and this is under Wheat, that there is the potential to be ineffective and here it is not within the norms of the profession to negligently and repeatedly allow the unauthorized disclosure of highly confidential material,” said Gutwein.

In rebuttal, Allen’s attorney challenged Gutwein’s argument.

“Conflict of interest doesn’t apply and that’s what Wheat is clearly about. Conflict on interest are different and this court would be one of the first court in Indiana for sure, if not the first court in the nation, to say that we treat all kinds of ethical violations like pre-trial publicity, or the inadvertent violation of a discovery order, as something on the same level as Wheat’s conflict of interest. That’s unheard of and this court should not be using the original action to create new law like the judge wants us to say here,” said Leeman.

In addition to the Indiana Supreme Court hearing on Thursday, prosecutors in the Delphi murders case asked a judge on Thursday to allow more charges against primary suspect Richard Allen.

In court documents obtained by News 8, prosecutors filed to amend the charges, asking the court to allow two additional charges of murder and two charges of kidnapping.

These are in addition the two existing counts of felony murder Allen faces for the murders of Libby German and Abby Williams on Feb. 13, 2017, in a wooded area near the Monon High Bridge in Delphi.

Court documents say prosecutors asked for the additional charges as they “more accurately align” charging information with the probable cause affidavit and discovery.

The file to amend comes after prosecutors and Allen’s attorneys spoke at the Indiana Supreme Court Thursday morning, debating either for or against the reinstatement of Allen’s original lawyers and the removal of Special Judge Frances Gull from the case.