The Supreme Court determined that statements made by Carl Brizzi, the former Prosecutor for Marion County, warranted a public reprimand. While conducting a murder prosecution for the killing of seven people in a home invasion, Brizzi stated that he would not trade all the money and drugs in the world for the life of one person, that the defendant deserved the ultimate penalty, that the evidence of the defendant’s guilt was overwhelming, and that it would be a travesty to not seek the death penalty. The Court concluded that Brizzi’s statements crossed the line between permissible comments informing the public of important matters and impermissible comments that either materially prejudice an adjudicative proceeding or heighten public condemnation of an accused in a criminal matter.
This case is somewhat unusual, in that the Supreme Court rejected the disciplinary hearing officer’s conclusions that the Commission failed to present clear and convincing evidence that Brizzi violated a Rule of Professional Conduct. The case also provides some interpretation of our Rules of Professional conduct regarding public comment regarding cases. Any lawyer who becomes involved in a case of public interest would be well served to read this case carefully before speaking to the media.
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