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20

Aug

2014

Ferguson Lesson

My Thoughts

As a former prosecutor, I support law enforcement and can say that most police officers are decent folks and good at their jobs. The recent events in Ferguson, however, underscore a serious and growing problem of the militarization of local police forces. Neighborhoods should not be warzones; the police should not employ para-military equipment and tactics on its own citizens. Police officers are not occupying soldiers and should not fire tear gas into the backyards of homeowners who are exercising their First Amendment rights. During the Clinton administration, Congress passed the “1033 Program” to pass along “surplus” military equipment to domestic law enforcement agencies. According to the Department of Defense, eight thousand agencies at all levels of government participate. Since 1997, the federal government has transferred over four billion dollars of equipment, like armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and remote control robots to local police agencies.  Albeit cool, none of these military weapons actually do anything to prevent crime. And, as Ferguson evidences, it also contributes to the police appearing aloof and citizens feeling like enemy combatants.   Historically in the greater Indianapolis area, officials have agreed that the best way to prevent and deter crime is improved communication and an intimate knowledge of the neighborhoods. This is a concept called community policing and emphasizes collaboration and cooperation between law enforcement and citizens. This type of policing is a value system where police/prosecutors work cooperatively with citizens to resolve issues identified to specific neighborhoods. This should not be mistaken as being soft on crime. On the contrary, community policing improves the ability of the police to catch and prosecute the bad guys because cops can’t do it alone-they need our eyes and ears. Catching bad guys is only part of the job. An effective police force become problem solvers who understand the importance of taking care of the little things before they become big things. Vandalism, truancy, abandoned vehicles and homes are all issues that affect the livability of a neighborhood. The partnership works together to improve the overall living condition. This paints a radically different visual then the images we’ve seen from Ferguson. Fergusonians don’t need tanks to fight crime - they need leaders who understand that a soldier’s mission is to engage and destroy the enemy. But, a police officer’s mission is to protect and serve the community.

4

Jun

2012

Hancock Co. coroner hires ex-prosecutor Brizzi as lawyer in misconduct-alcohol case

Press

As Republican Party leaders seek her resignation, Hancock County's coroner has hired Indianapolis attorney Carl Brizzi to help her answer charges of official misconduct and operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Brizzi is a former Marion County prosecutor. Tamara Vangundy, 49, allegedly showed up intoxicated at a death investigation late the night of May 2. The night of her arrest, police were at the scene of a teen-ager's suicide near New Palestine. Hearing the call, Vangundy drove her own vehicle to the house, police said. When deputies observed that Vangundy appeared impaired, they ...

29

Dec

2010

Brizzi looking forward to life after prosecutor's office

press

Indianapolis - With his last day on the job Friday, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi is ready to start his new career in law and reputation management. He told Eyewitness News he's formed Carl Brizzi and Associates, LLC, "under the idea that bad things happen to good people. A lot of times people need help with the legal consequences, but there are also non-legal [consequences]." Brizzi brings a lot of personal experience to the table. When he won a second term in 2006, many saw him as a rising star in the Republican party. But three years later, several Republicans urged him not to seek re-election and later to resign, fearing he'd be a liability. Brizzi faced scrutiny for several real estate deals and his ties to businessman Timothy Durham, the subject of an FBI raid early last year. While Durham hasn't been charged with anything, he is part of an ongoing criminal investigation. "It was tough, but at the end of the day, there was nothing there except for rumors and speculation and innuendo and that's all died down now as well," said Brizzi. He hopes he's remembered more for the cases he tried, such as winning convictions in the Hamilton Avenue murders. Still, Brizzi leaves office ready for a fresh start. "I'm sad because this is great office and it's a great job. I work with great people but at the same time I get happy feet, I want to go learn something new and do something else," he said. Brizzi calls his new career a good fit. "Obviously there's the legal experience, the criminal experience background [I have] as prosecutor," he said, "but also the experience of being on the other side of the aisle, of actually being the guy in the cross hairs, the focus of all this public attention." He opens an office in Hamilton County in January, with an office in downtown Indianapolis to follow, and he will continue his talk show on WIBC Radio. Despite getting the cold shoulder from fellow Republicans, Brizzi said he hasn't ruled out another run for office down the road. He said he still has nearly $500,000 in his campaign fund. "We've been using it to support some candidates from around the state, those who will take it. There are some who returned it - and maybe live to fight another day," said Brizzi. Two Republicans who received money are City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn and state Sen. Mike Delph. As for who Brizzi will support in the mayor's race? "I don't know. I have tremendous amount of respect for Mayor Ballard. I think he's done some great things," he said, "But I also have a lot of respect for Melina Kennedy. She ran against me in 2006. It was a close race. I was the only Republican to win in 2006. She's no shrinking violet. She's a super-tough opponent and she's qualified," said Brizzi. Controversial cases Always outspoken and never camera shy, Brizzi took the lead in many high profile cases. Last summer he dropped drunk driving charges against an Indianapolis officer accused of killing a motorcyclist over a faulty blood draw. He tried several criminal cases, winning convictions in the Hovey street murders. Brizzi also started a mentoring program with former Colts CoachTony Dungy, worked to curb graffiti and pushed legislation making it harder to make meth. "It's a pain in the neck to go get Sudafed if you have the flu because you have to present your driver's license. Well, that was our idea and that essentially stopped the meth wave," he said. Still, his eight years in office are somewhat overshadowed by the last 12 months, starting with the FBI raid of businessman Timothy Durham's office. Brizzi says he speaks with Durham around once a week. Fellow Republicans criticized Brizzi for his business and political ties to Durham. Durham was Brizzi's biggest campaign donor, a point that still grates him. "There were scores of politicians all across the state both Republican and Democrat that took money from him and then all of a sudden when all the allegations came out, again, none of it proven, where did they go? They ran and hid and no one returned the money either," he said. When Eyewitness News pointed out that Brizzi didn't return the money either, he said, "I spent all of mine." Brizzi also faced scrutiny for several investments including a stake in Harry and Izzy's restaurant, which he says he still owes six figures on. "That's what I don't understand - it's like where did you get the money. Well, I borrowed the money. Well, who did you borrow the money from? That's how people make investments or they inherit money," he said. For the record, he says it didn't come from Tim Durham. While Brizzi is adamant he didn't do anything unethical, "certainly if somebody came to me and said 'Should I do this?' I would say, 'No, don't do that. Even though you are allowed to do it you shouldn't do it.'" he said. Brizzi leaves office this week, but not the spotlight.

31

Dec

2010

Prosecutor's Next Gig: Reputation Management

Press

Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi is branching out from practicing law after he leaves office Saturday, opening a combination law firm and "reputation management" company. Brizzi's final year in office was a difficult one, with questions raised about his private financial dealings and his relationships with campaign donors -- especially financier Tim Durham, a longtime friend now under F-B-I investigation. Neither Brizzi nor Durham has been charged with anything, though federal authorities seized records from another Durham-affiliated business earlier this month as part of a phone-bill "cramming" investigation. Not only Democratic Prosecutor-elect Terry Curry but Republican nominee Mark Massa were sharply critical, with Massa calling for Brizzi's resignation. Brizzi says the experience of having "a bull's-eye on my back" has given him a unique perspective to advise clients facing not just legal trouble but harm to their image. "There are so many cases that I've seen in the last eight years as prosecutor where people get into this hunker-down mentality," Brizzi says. "The legal consequences of what they've done are not that weighty, but it's the emotional, the psychological, the social effect that really does hurt them." Brizzi's advice: unless there's a compelling legal reason not to, own up to what you've done and move on. Brizzi describes his new venture as a one-stop-shop reputation management firm, offering not just legal counsel but public-relations advice on how to reclaim your public image. He notes that can be a challenge even for people who are acquitted or never charged after the initial allegations make headlines. Brizzi says the Durham controversy was not a factor in his decision not to run for a third term. He says he found out for himself what past prosecutors advised him: the job takes a mental toll. "It's a different perspective on the word, because you're exposed to this seedy underbelly all the time," Brizzi says. "I won't say it jades you, but it gives you a different perspective." But Brizzi calls the job a "fantastic opportunity," more satisfying than his time working civil cases because of the opportunity to seek justice for victims. He especially relishes the cases he tried personally: the attempted murder of I-M-P-D Officer Jason Fishburn, the Hamilton Avenue murders, and the case of Ty Evans, who tried to strangle a woman he suspected was a police informant. He was right -- but the victim was wearing a wire. Police rushed to the scene in time to rescue her. The case became doubly memorable when Evans tried to charge at Brizzi during closing arguments. Sheriff's deputies had to subdue him. "The judge is banging the gavel -- 'Order in the courtroom!' The court security's up, the whole gallery of people are gasping, and I walked over to my daughter...and I said, 'Honey, are you okay?'" Brizzi recalls. "She looks at me, doesn't blink an eye, and says, 'Daddy, that was the coolest thing I've ever seen.'"

22

Oct

2013

Statement on today’s announcement from the US District Attorney

Press

The news today comes as no surprise to me and the truth has prevailed. The U.S. Department of Justice has conducted a thorough, exhaustive and expensive investigation over three years that supports my contentions that I conducted my business affairs both ethically and legally. A prosecutor has the power to indict or not indict. Neither Joe Hogsett nor any other prosecutor should give opinions about ethics or morals. Hogsett's baseless aspersions in a statement issued to announce that no charges will be made against me is a continuation of his disregard for the boundaries of his office. I want to deeply thank my family and friends who've been there for me during a protracted and painful period. I am currently on my way to work on a case in London and look forward to returning home to move forward in a proactive and positive way.

26

Mar

2012

FIGHT OR FLEE: The Castle Doctrine

My Thoughts

On February 26, 28-year old George Zimmerman, shot and killed 17-year old Trayvon Martin on the sidewalk of Zimmerman’s Florida neighborhood in what he claims was self defense – Zimmerman has not been charged, but the case is now being investigated by the Department of Justice. While the events surrounding this shooting remain cloudy, they have raised many questions about our self-defense rights. Do we have the right to fight? Or must we attempt to flee first? The basic legal premise of the “Castle Doctrine” is that there is no “Duty to Retreat” from a bad guy. Duty to retreat means that if an intruder enters your home, you may not have a legal defense for protecting yourself with deadly force, unless you first attempted to retreat. This concept makes my head hurt for a number of reasons. It is possible that someone could not only be criminally prosecuted for protecting home and family, but could actually be sued by the intruder or the intruder’s family (if you were a decent shot). This concept, while absurd, is at the very left end of the self defense law spectrum. The laws inFlorida and Indiana are at the other end. Our state has a much stronger interpretation of the “Castle Doctrine” called “Stand Your Ground.” This notion, also called “No Duty to Retreat”, allows for the use of deadly force by a person who has a legal right to be there – and no duty is imposed to attempt to “get away” first. These self defense laws are based on a “reasonableness” test. It is reasonable for you, for example, to defend yourself from an attacker – it is not reasonable to shoot him in the back as he is running away. At the end of the 911 tape, Zimmerman tells police that Martin is running away. Without evidence indicating that Martin doubled back for a confrontation, Zimmerman may not pass this test.

22

Mar

2012

Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse / Sugarland Update

Updates

Hearing scheduled tomorrow to determine a co-Defendant’s Motion to Compel Sugarland members, Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush to give depositions next week in Indianapolis. I will be attending. In my opinion, the depositions are premature. I have no objections to Nettles and Bush being deposed as scheduled next week; however, Sugarland has not answered any written discovery yet and we will specifically reserve the right to depose them again once paper discovery is complete.

19

Mar

2012

Should seat belts be required on school buses?

My Thoughts

Last week’s accident involving an Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter school bus has prompted debate concerning the fact Indiana law requires buckling up in our cars and trucks, yet there is not a law for students heading to and from school on the bus to wear safety belts. In last week’s tragedy, 5-year old Donasty Smith, and bus driver, Thomas Spencer, both died as a result of injuries sustained when the school bus collided with a bridge support beam near the 900 block of Emerson. Twenty percent of passengers on the bus, all between ages 5 & 16, were transported to local area hospitals. This week, Attorney Ken Nunn has filed a lawsuit against Miller Transportation, the school bus operator. According to the WISH TV story, Nunn plans to file a school bus seatbelt lawsuit against the State as well. Indiana is not alone on this issue. Only a handful of states require safety belts in school buses. Buses are considered to be the safest transportation for our children and are designed to safeguard without the necessity of buckling up. I’ll be posting a poll on my FaceBook page to find out what you all think….

10

Mar

2012

Incorrect Test Results

My Thoughts

The Indiana Supreme Court recently confirmed that the Department of Toxicology, responsible for testing blood and urine samples in many criminal prosecutions, provided flawed test results in recent years. While Marion County has its own crime lab to perform such tests, samples are sent to the State lab from across Indiana, including those from the State Police. Incorrect results may have been relied upon in Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or other cases where blood or urine was collected. At least five (5) of the 500 cases re-examined resulted in the retest not showing any of the substances originally reported. Erroneous test results may have occurred during the 2007-2009 years and anyone potentially affected should receive a Notice of Exculpatory Evidence by mail. The Supreme Court has stated that many of the faulty test results can only be addressed through investigating and litigating individual cases. Legal recourse comes in the form of filing a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) with the trial Court. It is recommended that anyone who receives Notice and wishes to challenge their conviction should contact an attorney. Carl Brizzi & Associates Serving Indianapolis, IN and surrounding areas www.carlbrizzi.com **BLOG IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND NOT TO BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE OR THE FORMATION OF AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.

22

Feb

2012

Sugarland denying liability in State Fair Stage Collapse

My Thoughts

In an answer filed in the pending lawsuit, Sugarland denies any negligence on their behalf for the seven deaths and countless injuries that occured on August 13, 2011 as a result of the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair. The band claims they had no control over the events leading up to the tragedy of that evening, going so far as to even state that some of the victims injuries “resulted from their own fault.” We find this response to be both shocking and offensive. Read more from the Indianapolis Star story at http://www.indystar.com/article/20120221/LOCAL18/202200352/Brizzi-blasts-Sugland-s-spin-doctoring-over-lawsuit?odyssey=nav%7Chead or WRTV6′s report at http://www.theindychannel.com/news/30510480/detail.html.

9

Feb

2012

New information regarding the State Fair stage collapse released at press conference

My Thoughts

The results of the investigation into the Indiana State Fair tragedy were announced by the Indiana Department of Labor Wednesday morning. Long-lasting investigation provided by The Indiana Occupational Safety and health Administration about a Stage Collapse was closed and the citations were issued. Seven people were killed and several others were left injured on August 13, 2011. Three organizations: the Indiana State Fair Commission, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 30 and Mid-America Sound Corporation were cited for not establishing and maintaining a safe environment for employees. The biggest citation was issued to Mid-America Sound Corporation, which was charged for the most serious safety violation and was fined $63,000. The “knowing” citation was issued to the Corporation because it was informed about safety requirements but ignored them. IATSE Local 30 was issued several fines in total cost of $11,500 for not providing appropriate safety precautions for their employees. The Indiana State Fair Commission was issued a fine of $6,300 for the inadequate life safety and evaluation plan and other safety norms neglected. These organizations will have 15 business days, according to Indiana law, to pay the penalties or to challenge them to the Indiana Board of Safety Review. The IOSHA investigation took 175 days and involved more than 2,000 man hours due to the Indiana Department of Labor. You can read full reports into the State Fair investigation on the Indiana Department of Labor’s website. Carl Brizzi & Associates Serving Indianapolis, IN & surrounding areas www.carlbrizzi.com

3

Jan

2012

More than 80 accidents in the greater Indianapolis area yesterday.

My Thoughts

In the early afternoon on January, 2nd, series of vehicle crashes blocked several lanes on Indianapolis-area interstates. Many of the wrecks were cleaned up and traffic was flowing again just before 3 p.m. At about 5.20 p.m the things started to die down. Due to the State Police report more than 80 crashed happened during this snowfall. Most of the crashes were on the southern half of the I-465 loop and many of those have been cleared and traffic was moving slowly. Because of the weather conditions roads were accumulating snow bursts, particularly on the Eastside and Southside. Mostly all the crashes happened because the people were not slowing down to the weather conditions. Indianapolis put 40 plow drivers on the streets this morning, Kara Brooks, spokeswoman for the city’s snow-removal team said in an e-mail. “They’re focusing on the main thoroughfares throughout Marion County. Crews are salting the roads and bridges, if necessary, with ‘Clear Lane,’ a salt treated with magnesium chloride. This helps to create a barrier between the pavement and snow – so ice doesn’t form beneath the snow. “Indy Snow Force will continue to monitor the road conditions throughout the day and evening hours. We will treat the roads as long as it’s necessary.” Fortunately, most crashes were not life-threatening, but as a fact they happened. So if you are going to drive today, be careful and prepare for difficult weather conditions. Safe Driving & Happy Holidays. Carl Brizzi & Associates Serving Indianapolis, IN & surrounding areas www.carlbrizzi.com

13

Dec

2011

Indianapolis-based Finish Line sued over hidden cameras

My Thoughts

A former Finish Line manager, David Meyer, placed hidden cameras in a ladies restroom and dressing area. Both areas were used by employees and customers alike. Meyer defends his actions stating there had been “plumbing problems” and he was trying to capture someone flushing items down the toilet. This purported explanation doesn’t really add up as last I checked plumbing was not installed in fitting rooms. Meyer worked in Finish Line stores in both Indiana and California. A lawsuit has been filed in Northern California federal court against Meyer and Finish Line by five female employees. A camera was retrieved in a California location and is now in the possession of police. Despite the fact Meyer admitted in the civil suit to placing the hidden cameras and acknowledges that the women were not aware of the surveillance, after investigation no criminal charges were filed by California officials. It is believed that Meyer is currently living in Indiana. Court documents reflect home addresses in Warsaw and Indianapolis. In response to the lawsuit, Finish Line claims Meyer’s actions were “neither know to, nor in any way condoned, by the company.” The five women are suing for unspecified monetary damages with claims of invasion of privacy and emotional distress amongst others. Meyer is representing himself in the civil suit. Under the legal doctrine of “respondeat superior” an employer is liable for the injuries caused by an employee who is working within the scope of his employment. Although the recordings, which were made between December 2009 and April 2010, were located on Meyer’s home computer, it seems his reasoning for the cameras is directly linked to the well-being of Finish Line’s business and this doctrine is applicable. A second suit was filed when Finish Line requested its insurance provider, Liberty Mutual, assist in paying legal expenses for the first lawsuit. Liberty Mutual has rejected the claim based on the circumstances and is requesting an order from the U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana to confirm that its general business policy does not cover actions such as these. Carl Brizzi & Associates, LLC Serving Indianapolis, IN and surrounding areas www.carlbrizzi.com

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