News and Tribune

Opinions

February 24, 2012

NASH: The cost of justice

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Last week, the Indiana Supreme Court refused to hear arguments over the appeals court ruling to remove Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson from the David Camm murder trial, and on Thursday a special prosecutor was named to continue with the case.

It also means that the taxpayers of Floyd County will pay an even higher cost for the third murder trial of the former state trooper that has twice been convicted of killing his wife and two young children, with each conviction later overturned on appeal.

While Henderson in interviews has made it quite clear that he disagrees with the decision of the highest court in the state, he still is totally at fault for his removal from the case. His decision to write a book about the second murder trial, before it came to a full conclusion, has resulted in the ever-growing cost of the new trial. I am disappointed in the prosecutor’s decision to use his position as an elected official in Floyd County to try to make a profit, and then when the whole thing backfires, stick the county with the bill.

At every turn, the price tag on this trial continues to rise. Now, along with paying for the defense, we also have to pay for the new prosecutor. There will also be additional cost of the new prosecutor to get up to speed on the case. Some people have estimated that the third trial may cost as much as another $1 million.

Not only are the taxpayers of our county paying for new prosecutors and defense attorneys, we have also been stuck with the bill for covering personal ethics complaints against Henderson. It was reported in the Courier-Journal that his defense bills on the ethics complaints have reached $27,000.

Henderson was quoted in the News and Tribune last week saying that he believes “but for my position as prosecutor, that complaint wouldn’t have been filed.”

I believe that if not for his decision to write a book, and to be compensated for it, he would not be under the scrutiny — making it not directly part of his position, but of his desire to profit from his position.

Why does Henderson believe that it is the taxpayers’ responsibility to pick up the tab to defend him from ethics complaints? Why are attorneys from an Indianapolis law firm billing Floyd County and why are the Floyd County Commissioners agreeing to pay the bills?

In a news report that was reported on WLKY-TV a few weeks ago, Steve Bush, president of the Floyd County Commissioners, said that he sees no problem with paying whatever legal bills the prosecutor presents him. He was quoted in the news report saying, “I will support Keith Henderson.”

I have no problem if Bush wants to personally “support” the prosecutor, but that should not include paying for personal legal bills with taxpayer money.

David Camm’s defense attorneys have used every legal maneuver to prolong this trial and drive up the cost to Floyd County. It almost seems like they believe that eventually there will be enough backlash about paying for all of this that someone will just give up. While they are within their rights to do what they have to do, I believe all they are doing is prolonging the inevitable. Eventually, David Camm will get a fair trial and they will exhaust all legal maneuvers and he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

It has been 11 1/2 years since the murders of Kim, Brad and Jill Camm. I feel for the family of the victims of this senseless murder. No amount of time or money will ever make their lives whole again. I can’t imagine what they are going through after all these years.

The murder of the Camm family members is one of the greatest tragedies that our community has ever seen. It has been a burden on everyone involved. It has also been a financial burden on the taxpayers of our county.

I do not believe that there should be a price tag put on justice. I am just not sure who should be paying for it.

— Matthew Nash can be reached at dmatthewnash@gmail.com.

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