WHERE THEY STAND: Former judge sets sights on prosecutor position

WHERE THEY STAND: Former judge sets sights on prosecutor position

Editor’s take note: Republican Lance Hamner is 1 of two candidates for Johnson County prosecutor, the best legislation enforcement position in the county. A Exactly where They Stand job interview with Hamner’s opponent, Republican incumbent Joe Villanueva, will be in following Saturday’s Every day Journal. The Q&A below consists of answers by Hamner in his individual phrases. It has been edited for duration and grammar.

A previous county prosecutor and superior court choose for the past a few a long time is operating for prosecutor again, challenging the incumbent who was chosen via caucus in 2019.

Lance Hamner resigned as Johnson County Remarkable Court 3 judge very last thirty day period to operate for prosecutor. He formerly served as Johnson County prosecutor from 1991 to 2008.

He is upset at how the prosecutor’s place of work has fared in new decades, and its mission to relatively and proficiently prosecute criminals is not currently being completed, he mentioned.

Hamner waited right until the end of the submitting period of time so he could finish a number of important cases that have been assigned to him, he stated.

Prosecutor Joe Villanueva is working for his to start with total term in business. He was picked by using caucus soon after previous prosecutor Brad Cooper was removed from office thanks to his felony conviction. Villanueva, who was chief deputy prosecutor at the time, gained the caucus in opposition to five other candidates.

He was caught off guard by Hamner’s final decision to operate for prosecutor, he said.

Villanueva has spent his overall 22-year career at the prosecutor’s business. He has taken methods in excess of the earlier two yrs to operate extra closely with law enforcement, including getting prosecutors at every single important crime scene, getting typical meetings with police administration, furnishing numerous teaching seminars and legal updates and undertaking “ride alongs” with officers, he reported.

His staff has gained 16 of the past 19 jury trials, and 36 of the last 40 bench trials, he said for the duration of an interview March 1.

Why do you want to serve as Johnson County prosecutor? What will make you the greatest human being for the task?

There are matters in the prosecutor’s workplace that want to be fixed. They will need to focus extra on schooling and advocacy and winning situations that go to demo. They need to have much better communication with victims and victims’ households permit them know what’s going on with their case, hold them knowledgeable and aid them realize how the method will work. There are a range of destinations in the price range that can be slash and trimmed so that they’re utilizing tax dollars in a more productive way. I’d like to see much more coaching for new deputy prosecutors. I would like to support them know how to far better present instances so they can earn. When you’re safeguarding the community, failure is not an option.

It’s not normally that a person of your rank ways down from the bench to do this sort of function again. Wander us via your thought procedure as you were making this choice.

I saw a quantity of cases remaining misplaced in a limited interval of time – serious conditions – and selections that were created that I considered were being not nicely considered by way of and that really should have been accomplished otherwise. I experienced a large amount of persons – police officers, customers of the community, members of the authorized group – appear to me consistently about the very last calendar year and a fifty percent and check with if I was any where shut to retirement, and would I be prepared to action up and run for prosecutor. I experienced no intention of undertaking that. I experienced 4 additional many years of my time period (as judge) and I intended to finish it. I genuinely loved becoming a choose, and I felt like I was generating a variation. But deep in my heart, I realized that I could convert the business all-around. I try to remember my dad constantly utilised to say when I was escalating up: “If not you, then who?” So I considered, both end off and retire as a judge in 4 yrs, or action up and run for prosecutor.

You said in your campaign announcement the prosecutor’s workplace has shed trustworthiness and integrity above the last a number of a long time, and the Brad Cooper scandal is one instance of that. What is your particular plan to assure that the prosecutor’s office regains the amount of integrity that the individuals of Johnson County have earned?

Important situations require to be overseen directly by the elected prosecutor, and selections have to have to be much more circumspect. When look for warrants are submitted to courts in important conditions, they require to be overseen straight by the elected prosecutor.

You also said in your marketing campaign announcement: “Like lots of men and women in Johnson County, I have been dissatisfied at how the Prosecutor’s Office has fared in new yrs. Fairly and properly prosecuting criminals is critical to the basic safety of our neighborhood, and that mission is not at the moment getting attained.” – What do you indicate by that? Can you give examples?

In the past yr and a 50 percent, I have witnessed an unacceptably substantial number of losses at trial.

What is the prosecutor’s place of work finding proper, right now?

Most of the situations that are brought into the prosecutor’s office environment by regulation enforcement are submitted and processed as they should really be.

What is the prosecutor’s workplace finding completely wrong?

An unacceptably higher selection of conditions are becoming lost at trial. Some of that has to do with how the case is analyzed and submitted. Some of that has to do with trial planning. And some of that has to do with advocacy. There requires to be additional instruction. There also wants to be reorganization in the office so the people today who are best capable to consider the cases are trying the scenarios.

You reported you have spoken to legislation enforcement officers about their fears. What are they?

Deficiency of conversation. They’ll convert in a circumstance and not hear back about anything that is heading on with it. A good deal of officers have instructed me they are concerned to complain mainly because they are fearful of offending the prosecutors, and that will have a unfavorable impression on their ability to function situations with them in the foreseeable future. Officers have informed me they’ll file for a look for warrant and when the look for warrant was turned down by the courtroom, they under no circumstances bought any opinions about what they could do to repair the difficulty. The only explanation a choose wouldn’t indicator a look for warrant is since the possible induce affidavit unsuccessful to set up possible bring about, and it is up to the prosecutor to evaluation the apps and assist officers make certain they can meet up with the probable result in normal.

Do you have a good doing work partnership with all businesses in the county?

Extremely good. When I was prosecutor, I put on periodic teaching for the regulation enforcement organizations in our county on constitutional criminal course of action, lookup warrant planning, arrest regulation, witness preparing, interrogation legislation. Individuals are all massive problems they teach in the academy, but have to have to be augmented and current. Most of the law enforcement companies in the county, which includes the sheriff’s office, use my e book on constitutional prison course of action: Indiana Arrest, Look for and Seizure Courtroom Manual.

You also said in your marketing campaign announcement the prosecutor’s place of work should really be operate like a prime-notch regulation agency. Can you clarify that? What changes do you plan on making to the workplace, together with personnel? What would be your initial shift?

The most certified, toughest working people must be at the top. Tasks and compensation ought to be based mostly on benefit, not longevity.

Are you an skilled demo lawyer? Do you program to carry a caseload and test your own conditions as the prosecutor?


There’s a notion that the law doesn’t utilize similarly to all in Johnson County, and the way Cooper’s elimination was handled, from a delayed arrest to the sentencing, could be viewed as an illustration of that. What do you have to say about that?

I consider my report speaks for itself. No one with political or financial advantage escaped justice when I was prosecutor.

Beneath what eventualities would you find a unique prosecutor to deal with circumstances? How would you be associated in that procedure?

When there is any perception that I couldn’t or would not be honest and neutral in assessing the deserves of a scenario.

Really should a exclusive prosecutor be sought any time area law enforcement personnel are accused of a crime?

Not always. The folks have to have to have self-assurance that their elected prosecutor is imposing the legislation in their county.

Should really the public be knowledgeable of the particulars of the crimes that are fully commited in the county? What amount of transparency would you warranty?

There are times throughout the procedure of an investigation or in planning for demo when much too a lot information and facts could impede a prosecutor’s ability to look into and prosecute. Other than that, there’s no explanation any of it should really be concealed from the public.

How do you check out the nearby drug problem? Are the drug roundups resolving it?

Area legislation enforcement’s drug enforcement initiatives are powerful and effective. There demands to be extra effort in the prosecutor’s office to focus on punishing high-stage dealers and receiving procedure for folks who have come to be addicted through no fault of their individual, or via some fault of their personal. I’m really significantly in favor of treatment method for addicted folks. We’ve manufactured a large amount of strides in the last few of several years. We have two drug courts. Johnson County Superior Courtroom 2 has a plan referred to as reentry court docket, which when I was decide, I employed to deliver the individuals who had been in my demand to. Decide Peter Nugent has accomplished a exceptional occupation retaining individuals determined in restoration, and has a great good results level for getting persons out of the downward spiral of drug habit. I have stacks of letters that men and women wrote to me, as judge, thanking me for offering them a opportunity to go via the software and transform their lives all over. Merely throwing them in prison and retaining them in jail would have stored them from becoming successful citizens.

Now, the prosecutor’s workplace is also partnering with companies on sexual intercourse trafficking roundups. Do you program to go on that exertion? Why or why not?

Completely. I agree with our previous Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice who reported, “Defeating human trafficking is a good ethical calling of our time.”

You chose to depart your situation as prosecutor mid-time period for some thing unique, and you have now carried out the exact issue a second time. You also threw your hat in the ring fairly late. What would you say to the men and women who propose uncertainty or non-determination from you?

When I remaining the prosecutor’s office environment, I felt that it was in excellent arms and I could make a larger distinction as a choose. I would’ve under no circumstances still left staying a choose if the prosecutor’s business office was doing the job ideal. I supposed to keep wherever I was. I was asked to arrive back again and deal with it. When I declared I was going to do that, I was approached by a quantity of victims who felt like they experienced been overlooked by the prosecutor’s business office and revictimized, and I realized the selection I made was the suitable choice. Who would depart a cozy situation, exactly where I did sense like I was producing a big difference, to have to place my family by way of a campaign and go again and reorganize a further office environment except if it desired to be carried out? The mission of the prosecutor’s office is to safeguard our people today. That suggests some instances involve added hard work, and if people cases aren’t obtaining the focus they need, then one thing desires to transform.

You have designed community your disapproval of Villanueva’s handling of a current murder scenario. How could have you dealt with the Marcus Salatin situation in different ways?

I really don’t imagine the case was adequately handled. The investigators worked challenging to place that scenario with each other. Often a circumstance, even if it is complicated, needs to be tried and requires to have its day in courtroom.

In 2005, there was a plea offer in a murder circumstance you managed – Pedro Marcelino – which resulted in a conviction for voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to 40 several years. The job of a prosecutor is to comply with the regulation and evidence, even when it results in owning to make an unpopular conclusion. What is your response to that?

Which is like evaluating lightning to a lightning bug.

Mr. Villanueva, in his pre-caucus interview, named you as his prime influencer. You ended up his mentor, a job design. “I’ve generally appeared up to him and how he carried out himself and taken care of tough circumstances. I go to him with lawful thoughts,” he explained. “He’s a fantastic head, a good individual, and an individual who is not fearful to say to me, ‘Hey Joe V., what are you pondering on this?’” What occurred?

Shockingly, we had just about no conversations about how to make improvements to the workplace or how to solve a dilemma. I questioned why. I was generally prepared.

Who are your leading influencers?

I’m aged-faculty. When I initial grew to become prosecutor in 1990, I had been doing the job for Marion County Prosecutor Stephen Goldsmith. I try to remember a person time there was a debate going on among the high-stage people today about how to resolve a precise difficulty, and my boss said, “what’s in the most effective desire of the taxpayers?” Another person in the meeting pointed out which was the greater alternative for the public, and he claimed that is what we’re going to do. I was so amazed with that that I solved that would generally be my question: What is in the ideal desire of the public I provide? That’s heading to be the remedy to what we do. It’s governed my selection-generating during my complete community occupation. As a trial law firm, I usually viewed people who I considered were prime in their discipline and experimented with to emulate or adapt their approaches and instruments. And my dad and mom for simply instructing me the concepts of proper and incorrect.

What is your approach if you get rid of the prosecutor race?

In advance of I became a prosecutor, I practiced regulation in a non-public legislation company. This is how I learned how to adequately work a legislation business office — where promotions and responsibility are dependent on advantage and do the job ethic, not on a very good ol’ boy system. If I were to be unsuccessful in the key, I would return to private apply. I would also keep on teaching legal professionals and legislation enforcement officers as I have accomplished for the previous many many years.

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