White County Prosecutor Robert Guy, left, and Sheriff Bill Brooks. File photos
White County Prosecutor Robert Guy, left, and Sheriff Bill Brooks. File photos
MONTICELLO — White County Prosecutor Bob Guy says he’s not been getting cooperation from a local law enforcement agency in obtaining information his office needs to prosecute cases.

White County Sheriff Bill Brooks doesn’t see it that way.

Guy told the White County Commissioners and County Council on Monday that the White County Sheriff’s Office is refusing to hand over information the prosecutor’s office needs — and usually receives — to move forward with cases.

“We are required to provide discovery (evidence) to defense attorneys,” Guy said. “We have to give them what we have. It’s a requirement under law.”

The law to which Guy is referring is known as the Brady Rule, a US Supreme Court ruling in 1963 (Brady v. Maryland) that requires prosecutors to provide the defense with any exculpatory evidence that could materially affect a verdict or sentence. Indiana law abides by the Brady Rule.

To do that, Guy said they need the cooperation of law enforcement agencies to provide the information they collect so the prosecutor’s office can comply with evidence discovery laws. Information includes things such as reports, photographs, video, statements, physical evidence and the like.

Guy said he was “embarrassed” to stand before the council and commissioners asking for their help, adding that many cases either won’t get filed or will be dismissed if his office can’t get the information it needs. He made references to White County Sheriff Bill Brooks without specifically naming him during the meeting.

“This is the sixth sheriff that I have worked with and the first time we’ve ever had a problem getting information that is required to be given to us so that we can give it to defendants and defense attorneys upon their request,” he said. “It’s very frustrating that we have an elected official who is standing in the way of our criminal justice system.”

Brooks, on Tuesday, responded to Guy’s remarks, saying the prosecutor provided inaccurate statements to the commissioners and council. He also took issue with the matter being brought up during a public meeting.

“The commissioners/county council meeting is not the correct venue for this matter to be discussed,” Brooks said. “The courts are the proper venue for matters involving discovery rules in pending legal proceedings.”

Guy said he had requested jail video of the booking process for a recent offender, whose attorney requested it through his office. Instead, Guy said the sheriff’s office responded via email that it would no longer comply with the requests without a subpoena.

“We have always been able to get the jail video of the booking process,” he said. “For some reason, the sheriff’s office will no longer provide those to us.”

Brooks said booking information that Guy requested had “already been given to him three times.” He listed the three instances in the following order:

• When information of the booking is entered into the computer system, the prosecutors office has it available.
• A hard copy of the information is delivered to the prosecutor’s office, often within 24 hours.
• Every Monday, the prosecutors office is given a report listing all arrests from the previous week.

Guy said his office began issuing subpoenas for the requested information and only one of the requests were filled.

On Monday morning, Guy said a member of his staff checked on the status of subpoenas that should have been fulfilled by Dec. 4 only to find a motion submitted by Lewis Kappes, an Indianapolis-based law firm, asking on behalf of the White County Sheriff’s Office to “quash” the subpoenas.

“This really puts me in an awkward position when we cannot comply – and we are required to by law – with the discovery process for criminal defendants in these cases,” Guy said. “It also makes me concerned with what else we are not getting if we can’t get what we’re requesting by subpoena.

“We’re supposedly on the same side.”

Brooks said Guy’s request for the jail video were “vague” and as a courtesy, his office provides the prosecutor’s office with a “fill-in-the-blank” request form to “help facilitate requests for videos.”

More to the point, Brooks said the subpoenas Guy submitted did not meet compliance and procedures set forth with Indiana trial and criminal rules “based upon case law precedent in Indiana.”

“The subpoenas that were submitted were not the appropriate subpoenas to receive the information,” he said. “The prosecutor subpoena is typically used by prosecutors prior to charges being filed. Since the records Mr. Guy was seeking were for individuals that had already been criminally charged, the sheriff’s office did not believe the discovery request was being appropriately made and sought the court’s assistance to clarify whether the subpoenas as presented should be quashed.”

By the end of Monday, the dispute was rendered moot when White County Superior Court ordered the prosecutor’s subpoenas be quashed.

Brooks said they will continue to work with the prosecutor’s office on all “reasonable and legal requests” that are compliant with applicable laws, rules and procedures.

“We will examine all requests to ensure they are proper,” he said.

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