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16 September 2005

how Ms District Attorney fights the War on Drugs

Well, this all had a Happy Ending. The drug defendant, an accused methamphetamine cooker, got twenty years in the can anyway.

If you watch a lot of American TV cop shows, the Drug Cops and the Drug Prosecutors are the Good Guys.

Those shows are fiction.

Here are some Real drug prosecutors. They have the ethics of a turd, but that's just my personal opinion.

When these two Officers of the Court get their licenses to practice law restored again, they'll be prosecutors again, and they'll go back to winning the War on Drugs for the American people again. We can all sleep soundly.

* * * * * * *

The Courier-Journal
(Louisville Kentucky USA)
Wednesday 14 September 2005

Indiana court suspends
Washington prosecutor

Defendant's notes taken improperly

By Harold J. Adams

The Indiana Supreme Court yesterday suspended Washington County Prosecutor Cynthia Winkler from practicing law for 120 days and her chief deputy for 60 days in a case in which they surreptitiously took handwritten notes from a drug defendant during a deposition.

The suspensions will begin after the high court arranges for a temporary replacement prosecutor.

Yesterday's ruling stems from a May determination by a hearing officer for the court's Disciplinary Commission that Winkler and Blaine Goode, her deputy, violated the Rules of Professional Conduct for Indiana attorneys while prosecuting the drug charges in 2003.

Winkler's suspension is 30 days longer than the 90 days recommended by the hearing officer and twice as long as the term originally sought by a commission attorney.

Goode's suspension matched hearing officer Leslie Shively's recommendation, though the commission asked that he receive only a reprimand.

The high court's opinion, written by Chief Justice Randall Shepard, said "the recommended sanction is not adequate and does not sufficiently reflect the serious nature of Winkler's misconduct."

The actions taken by the prosecutors were "blatant ethical violations," according to the Supreme Court.

Shepard wrote that the prosecutors, "blinded by their zealous quest to prosecute the defendant … lost sight of basic ethical considerations."

Winkler and Goode were prosecuting Lewis Steward on methamphetamine charges in February 2003 when defense attorney Mark Clark, preparing for the trial, questioned a police officer involved in the case.

Steward communicated with Clark during the deposition by writing on a legal pad passed between the two of them. Steward left the pad face down on a table when he and Clark left the courtroom to confer in private.

Goode, who remained at the table with Winkler, ripped the page of notes from the legal pad and handed it to his boss. Winkler then "concealed them by placing the notes among a stack of files she had before her on the table," according to the Supreme Court.

Winkler wanted to compare Steward's handwriting to that on a methamphetamine recipe being used as evidence in the drug case.

Taking the notes "surreptitiously," instead of getting a search warrant, subpoena or court order, violated the attorney-client privilege, Shepard wrote.

"Maintaining the confidentiality of communications between an attorney and a client is a foundational element of our justice system," he wrote.

Winkler said in an interview yesterday that "we apologize for violating Lewis Steward's attorney-client privilege. We were wrong and overzealous in the prosecution of a meth dealer. It will never happen again."

Goode, who had been a lawyer for only eight months before the incident, said he apologized "for my action in seizing the note. There is no excuse for it. I acted like the police officer I had been for 10 years."

Taking the notes violated a rule against obtaining evidence by means that violate a person's rights, the Supreme Court said.

The high court also accepted the hearing officer's finding that the prosecutors violated rules against making false statements and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation when they tried to hide the fact that they had the notes, and that the behavior was "prejudicial to the administration of justice," another violation.

Winkler "even went through the charade of looking through her files and not finding the missing notes she knew were there" after the defense team noticed they were missing, Shepard wrote.

Taking the notes concerns the justices, the opinion said, "but their attempts to conceal their misconduct are even more distressing."

In that regard, "the most troubling aspect of this case is Winkler's insistence, even in the proceedings before the hearing officer, that she had done nothing wrong," the opinion said.

It noted the hearing officer's conclusion that Winkler has no understanding of why her actions were wrongful.

"It is this lack of insight that leads us to conclude that a significant sanction is necessary to ensure that the seriousness of her misconduct is impressed upon her," it said.

Winkler has been an attorney for more than 20 years, the court noted. "In light of her insistence that she did nothing wrong," it said, "we have grave concerns that similar conduct could be repeated in the future."

Winkler said, however, that it will not. She and Goode said they intend to return to the prosecutor's office after their suspensions.

"We accept responsibility for our actions and the punishment administered by the Supreme Court," Winkler said.

The Supreme Court concluded that all lawyers must "understand that it is unacceptable to tolerate litigation premised on 'the end justifies the means.' "

Laura Iosue, the disciplinary commission attorney who prosecuted Winkler and Goode, said she was "very pleased with the result."

Steward was convicted in the drug case and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

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