The Indiana Supreme Court this week has refused to accept consideration of the appeal of convicted former Indianapolis police officer David Bisard. Bisard amidst great notoriety was convicted of dui causing the death of a motorcycle rider within Marion county. The Supreme Court’s denial to hear further legal claims within his case effectively affirms the Indiana Court of Appeals ruling that had formerly affirmed Bisard’s trial court conviction.
As I have written in many forums throughout the pendency of this legal dispute, there have been few criminal cases within recent memory that I can recall in Indiana that have had so many divergent avenues to explore; both legal as well as political.
Initial outcry within the course of events that has ultimately lead to Bisard’s prison commitment revolve around the Marion County prosecutor’s initial decision not to charge Bisard with dui causing death, but merely Reckless Driving related offenses. Such remaining charges would therefore have subjected the former police officer to far less potential criminal sanction.
Those within the administration of former Prosecutor Carl Brizzi asserted their argument that former codified legal statutes in Indiana did not allow for the admissibility of the alcohol test result of Bisard taken after the accident. Whether such determination was a politically expedient rationale by which to avoid offending local police unions and its membership or a courageous principled determination based strictly on interpretation of law will never be fully uncovered. However, the harsh reality of the prosecutorial inaction was an impression that a wide scale cover up to benefit the criminal conduct of a local police officer had been initiated.
As the legal proceedings continued, the case became a political centerpiece of the following election for prosecutor whereby Carl Brizzi was defeated by Terry Curry. (As a side note David Wyser, a former Chief Deputy for Carl Brizzi would later run for election for Hamilton County Prosecutor where he had to eventually remove himself from consideration due to a modification of sentence scandal that involved alleged payments toward Wyser’s campaign)
Curry vowed to re examine and attempt to reverse the Brizzi administration’s actions that exposed Bisard to far less criminal punishment than the victim’s family had demanded. Toward this objective Curry initiated an appeal of the ruling of Marion County Superior Court Judge Grant Hawkins’ decision to utilize a strict interpretation of Indiana statute to suppress evidence of Bisard’s alleged alcohol test results at the time of the fatal accident.
It is from this point on that I have submitted that political considerations had served to trump a reasoned and courageous decision by Judge Hawkins on the issue. Had it not been for the media attention and campaign resources devoted to the seeming injustice of a police officer being given special consideration, I believe Curry may never have initiated such an appeal of the trial court ruling.
Without delving into the legal minutia of the case that I have written of elsewhere, Judge Hawkins’ ruling would customarily be one conservative legal analysts would be proud of. Hawkins’ was not willing to speculate and make his own determination as to who was authorized by Indiana legal statute to draw blood pursuant to allowing for such potential evidence to be admissible within an Indiana court of law.
Based upon a strict interpretation of statute the individual who drew Bisard’s blood was simply not prescribed to due so toward the later admissibility for use as legal evidence. Nonetheless, Curry’s actions to seek reversal of the ruling and the Indiana Court of Appeal’s order to overturn Hawkins’ decision may have curried favor among the general public, but in my view struck a dangerous blow toward allowing judicial officials to impose their own views on the law when politically expedient.
In point of fact justice may very well have been done in insuring that David Bisard received the criminal sanction deserved for the crime committed. However, when public opinion is permitted to intervene in substituting judicial opinions for those of the state legislature, the soundness and respect for Indiana’s legal precedent carries the prospect of becoming dangerously compromised.