Thursday, June 11, 2015

Did Tippecanoe County Prosecutors File New Charges in Retaliation for Blog Exposure in Cop Brutality Case?

Gardner fights back
Erin Gardner says she will be filing a complaint with the Indiana Disciplinary Commission against Tippecanoe County prosecutors after making a shocking discovery that their alleged motivation for prosecuting her (again) is because they didn't like their exposure for malicious prosecution by the Lafayette Citizen Journal!

Yes, you read that right.  Her court-appointed special conflict attorney reportedly told a credible defense witness that prosecutors are going after her again because of the published stories about her case on this blog.

The court-appointed special conflict attorney also reportedly told the witness that prosecutors "complain about the Lafayette Citizen Journal stories all the time."

Erin has finally had enough, and she plans to do something about it.  She is currently seeking private counsel and plans to file a complaint with the Indiana Disciplinary Commission against local prosecutors who made prejudicial statements against her to court-appointed defense counsel.

First, a little background:

A record number of readers followed this blog during its reporting on the persecution of Erin Gardner, the young woman who had several bogus charges leveled against her after being roughed up by Lafayette Police Officer Jeff Webb.   The story was so bizarre that it was highlighted on Charlie White's Indiana Talk Radio program a few times.  After months of legal hassles, Erin finally prevailed.

Deputy Prosecutor Jackie Starbuck
Gardner refused to negotiate her civil rights away, and in doing so, she exposed a system of corruption and injustice in Tippecanoe County that citizens rarely see.  Each time Erin refused a plea bargain in the case, additional bogus charges were added by Deputy Prosecutor Jackie Starbuck as an obvious means to intimidate the defendant.  Starbuck was later removed from the case after details of her actions became public via the LCJ.

At one point, Starbuck unsuccessfully tried to convince former Judge Les Meade to move the case to drug court, even though Erin tested negative for every drug test that was forced upon her.

"They were desperate to find something to justify their actions," said Gardner.  "I believe they are worried about a civil lawsuit."

Gardner Attacked in Domestic Dispute; Charged With Crime A Month Later After Refusing Plea Bargain Deal in Police Brutality Case

In the midst of all her legal hassles during that time, Erin was involved in a minor domestic incident after she attempted to pick her son up from the child's father and was refused.  Erin said that her son's paternal grandmother became verbally abusive and was swearing in front of her son, so at this point Erin attempted to leave and told her son she would contact him later as she did not wish to escalate the situation.  Erin contends that the grandmother attacked her in front of her son as she was trying to exit the door.    

Bruising Gardner allegedly sustained in domestic attack
"I am a peaceful person, and I do not want my son exposed to violence," said Erin.  "I did my best to avoid any type of confrontation and acted in self-defense."  Erin said that the grandmother pulled her hair, held her down, and began repeatedly punching her to the point that she could not escape.

"I was screaming for Tony to get his mom off of me," Erin said.  "Afterwards, I called the police and Child Protection Services."

Both parties reportedly phoned the Lafayette Police Department even though Erin doubted she would receive fair treatment because of her previous claims of police brutality.  Her suspicions became a reality when she discovered that a police report was created based solely on allegations from her perpetrators, while ignoring her claims.

"I find it interesting that the statements from mother and son were verbatim in the police report,"  said Gardner.  "It looked like a cut and paste job, and it's not in any kind of language they would use."

"The claims against me are absolutely false, and I doubt charges would have been filed had I not exercised my rights in the other case," said Gardner.  "I'm looking forward to proving my innocence to a jury of my peers."

Prosecutors filed battery charges against Erin a month after the incident occurred and quickly used them against her as a bargaining chip in the earlier case.  Erin was offered a plea bargain deal for the first case, wherein the battery charges would be dropped if she would agree to a diversion in the seat belt case.  Erin stood firm and said her civil rights were not for sale.  

"To put a child through another ordeal in retaliation against his mother is unconscionable," said Gardner.  "It was bad enough he had to be present when his grandmother attacked his mother, but now he is affected by a corrupt legal system attacking her."

Attorneys have confirmed that these types of domestic hearsay cases rarely get filed, and pointed to the likelihood that it was filed as a means to intimidate Erin into submission to a desperate plea bargain offer.

It seems that local prosecutors didn't like the fact that they were left with egg on their faces after the judge scolded them for wasting court time for a trivial misdemeanor case where the defendant's rights were clearly violated.

Rather than dismiss the baseless charges against Erin, prosecutors are once again wasting valuable resources and court time by continuing to prosecute her for a case that rests largely on the word of a mother-son team with questionable credibility.

In contrast, Erin's evidence, which includes a photograph of the bruises she sustained at the hands of her alleged attacker and the recorded testimony of her son, appears to indicate that she was a victim, not a perpetrator.

Prosecutors recently moved forward with witness depositions.  Erin said she was barred from being present during her accuser's testimony even though she had requested to be included in the proceedings to ensure that appropriate follow-up questions were asked by her court-appointed public defender.  

Gardner also contends that her attorney, who was appointed by the court as "special conflict counsel" promised things would change; however, she believes they have only gotten worse.

"Not only was I barred from being present for my accuser's deposition, my attorney asked one of my witnesses to speak with the prosecutor weeks before a deposition."

"Why would I do that?" asked the witness.  "That wouldn't be in Erin's best interest."

Other attorneys agree that it would be uncommon for a defense witness to be questioned without counsel prior to a deposition.

"Erin just wants to be small again," commented the witness.  "She doesn't like the limelight, and she just wants to live a normal life again."

Gardner has since moved out of the community to avoid further harassment.

After speaking with Erin's court-appointed attorney, the defense witness expressed serious concerns to the LCJ about alleged prosecutorial misconduct that Erin would like to have investigated by the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.

"When I asked Erin's attorney why they were going after Erin based on flimsy, hearsay evidence, he told me that they're taking this to trial because of the blog [LCJ] she's involved with," commented the witness.

"He told me [the proseuctors] talk about the blog all the time, and it's why they are going after her."

LCJ Responds to Baseless Allegations

The buck stops with Harrington
Erin Gardner is not a member of the LCJ writing team.  LCJ members first became aware of Erin after she brought her story to us via our Facebook page.  After reviewing the evidence, we believe that Erin was being treated unfairly by public employees who took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution.

We are greatly concerned that they continue to violate the constitutional rights of an American citizen.  Every citizen has a right to petition their government for a redress of grievances without fear of retaliation, a right to free speech (including via the Internet), a right to a jury trial without coercion, as well as a fundamental right to due process without being forced to submit to unconstitutional drug testing prior to a conviction.

The buck stops at the desk of Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington, and we call on him to investigate these serious allegations.  The way this case has been handled is beyond shameful!  We realize that some prosecutors are accustomed to intimidating citizens into relinquishing their right to a jury trial via the corrupt plea bargain system; however, it is a sacred, fundamental right that should not be toyed or tampered with.  When citizens elect to exercise that right, they should not be punished for it.

For a prosecutor to offer the LCJ  as a reason for going after Erin Gardner,  it is deserving of a trip in front of the Disciplinary Commission.  We encourage Ms. Gardner to follow through with a complaint.  And of course, we will keep the public updated, because "sunlight is the best disinfectant."

This could happen to any one of us, and it is likely happening to others who do not have a voice or a forum.  This is the type of story that the LCJ was created for.  People like Erin Gardner deserve to at least have a voice while they are being legally raped by a corrupt judicial system.  We will continue to follow the persecution of Erin Gardner and put the abusers of the constitution on our public Wall of Shame.

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