Lawyers Andrew Baldwin, left, and Brad Rozzi, right, speak to reporters. Inset top: Judge Fran C. Gull (WTHR screenshot). Inset bottom: Richard Allen (Carroll County (Ind.) Detention Center)
Civil attorneys representing accused Delphi murderer Richard Allen have asked the Indiana Supreme Court to step in and replace presiding Special Judge Fran C. Gull, claiming that she violated Allen’s constitutional rights when she “extrajudicially” removed his defense attorneys from the case.
In a writ of mandamus filed Monday, attorneys Mark K. Leeman and Cara Schaefer Wieneke requested that the state’s highest court to formally reinstate Brad Rozzi and Andrew Baldwin as Allen’s defense attorneys, arguing that their removal violated his “fundamental constitutional rights to counsel and a fair trial.”
“No Indiana court has ever tolerated a trial judge removing a lawyer from a case, over the client’s objection, based on the judge’s subjective belief the lawyer is negligent, or even ‘grossly negligent,’” the filing states. “And courts across the country regularly issue extraordinary writs in criminal cases to reinstate defense attorneys who have been kicked off cases for conduct the trial court found upsetting or negligent.”
Gull officially removed Rozzi and Baldwin from Allen’s case during an Oct. 31 hearing despite the fact that both attorneys had agreed to remain on the case pro bono, or free of charge.
“I have great concerns with your representation,” Gull said to Allen during the hearing. “I cannot and will not allow them to represent you. I am sorry this happened to you Mr. Allen.”
The “will they, won’t they” surrounding Rozzi and Baldwin’s representation of Allen began when Gull came out of chambers at the start of an Oct. 19 hearing and announced that both Rozzi and Baldwin had withdrawn from the case in an “unexpected turn of events.”
During that hearing — the first to allow broadcast cameras to film the proceeding — Gull said that Baldwin had orally withdrawn from the case after sealed evidence was leaked from his office and provided to a true crime podcast. She then claimed that Rozzi was also withdrawing and planned to submit a written notification to the court.
But Rozzi never submitted his resignation. Instead, he filed a series of motions seeking to have himself reinstated as Allen’s attorney and to have Gull disqualified and replaced. In the motion to have Gull disqualified from the case, Rozzi said Gull “ambushed” him and Baldwin with “a planned Hobson’s choice designed to coerce withdrawals.” He also alleged that Gull “coerced an oral request to withdraw from Attorney Rozzi” and gave neither the opportunity to defend themselves from her accusations.
If they had not “voluntarily” withdrawn prior to the Oct. 19 hearing, Gull allegedly threatened to read a statement during the hearing designed to professionally embarrass Rozzi and Baldwin by detailing their perceived “gross negligence” in representing Allen.
The attorneys who filed the latest writ also noted that they are seeking a release of the transcript from the behind-closed-doors meeting inside of Gull’s chambers prior to the Oct. 19 hearing.
The alleged “gross negligence” at the crux of Gull’s decision to remove the attorneys stemmed from, among other things, the attorneys’ issuing of a press release on behalf of their client, accidentally emailing a discovery log to a third party, “improper” statements made in a motion filed with the court, and a photograph of sealed evidence being leaked from Baldwin’s office without the knowledge or consent of either attorney.
The latest petition to the Indiana Supreme Court was filed about a week after other civil attorneys representing Allen asked the high court to remove Gull for failing to allow public access to filings in the case.
“If there was ever a time when the openness mandated by the Trial Rules and Access to Court Records Rules was critical, it is the present case — one of the most high-profile cases this state has ever seen,” the filing stated. “For many Hoosiers this is the first time they have followed the workings of a court in this state. Yet the Trial Rules and Access to Court Records Rules have been repeatedly violated, leaving the public and the media in the dark.”
Similar to the previous filings, the civil attorneys for Allen also requested that the court remove Gull from the case, arguing that going forward, “the public will question the judge’s impartiality.”
“To restore the public’s trust in the integrity of the judicial process in this high-profile case, a new special judge should be appointed,” the filing states.
Allen is facing two counts of murder in the 2017 slayings of Abigail Williams and Liberty German, whose bodies were discovered in a wooded area just off of the Delphi Historic Trails system.
Williams and German vanished while walking the Monon High Bridge Trail near Delphi, Indiana, on Feb. 13, 2017. The trail traverses an abandoned stretch of what was once the Monon Railroad and crosses an old trestle over a small river or creek. The girls were found dead the next day in an area near the trestle, and their deaths were determined to be homicides.
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