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Indiana Supreme Court: Judge didn’t prove removing Delphi attorneys was ‘necessary last resort’

Indiana Supreme Court explains Richard Allen decision

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The special judge handling the Delphi Murders trial did not find removing attorneys for Richard Allen was a ‘necessary last resort’, Indiana’s Supreme Court ruled.

The Indiana Supreme Court issued its formal written opinion Thursday morning, three weeks after issuing the order restoring Richard Allen’s original defense attorneys to his case.

“Basically the Supreme Court came up with a new standard,” said Indiana University Maurer School of Law Professor Jody Madeira.

The new standard has three key parts, “First of all disqualification has to be a last resort. Second, it has to be necessary to protect the criminal defendants constitutional rights. Third, the trial judge has to determine that those interests outweigh the prejudice to the defendant,” said Madeira.

The court’s opinion found Judge Gull failed to prove removal of attorneys Andrew Baldwin and Bradley Rozzi was “a last resort that was necessary,” and that the judge had other options to handle attorney conduct.

“(The prosecution and judge) do argue the disclosure of case materials undermines Allen’s defense, but they don’t explain how,” Justice Derek Molter wrote in an opinion joined by all four other justices. “And they don’t argue these mistakes reflect that Baldwin and Rozzi are incompetent to handle Allen’s
defense or explain why disqualification is necessary to protect Allen’s right to the effective assistance of counsel. Notably, neither the State nor the special judge direct us to any case concluding that issues like these—either in isolation or combination—rendered counsel constitutionally ineffective or were sufficient to warrant disqualification.”

“She could have fined the attorney’s, She could have held them in contempt through imprisonment, or both,” said Madeira.

In October 2023, Judge Frances Gull announced Baldwin and Rozzi had withdrawn from Allen’s defense team.

The attorneys later accused Gull of forcing them off the case by telling them to either withdraw or be publicly accused of gross negligence and be removed.

Gull cited a leak of evidence in the 2017 murders of Abby Williams and Libby German in Delphi, including photographs from the crime scene, as part of her reasoning.

The leak was traced back to the defense team’s office.

One person has been criminally charged in the case. A second suspect committed suicide during the Indiana State Police investigation.

The Supreme Court’s January order also unanimously rejected a defense request to remove Judge Gull from the trial.

The justices said Allen’s defense team failed to meet the standard to remove a judge, and that Gull’s “efforts did not reflect any bias or prejudice, and Allen doesn’t identify anything she has done that demonstrates she isn’t impartial.”

Gull rejected a similar request from the defense team Wednesday, citing the court’s decision.

Also, on Thursday, a hearing set for next week in the case was moved to 9 a.m. March 19.

Gull will consider motions by the prosecution to add murder and kidnapping charges against Allen, and contempt of court allegations against Baldwin and Rozzi.

Allen’s trial is currently set to begin in October.