Public defender to face hearing

Friday, March 2, 2007
Kanishka Bhattacharya (left) performs as Henry Drummond while Justin Bull (right) portrays Bert Cates in the DePauw Theatre production "Inherit the Wind," which runs four nights next week at the Moore Theatre.

The Putnam County public defender suing Sheriff Mark Frisbie for assault and battery has himself become the target of an investigation.

Attorney James Recker, a part-time public defender for Putnam County, is scheduled to appear before the state disciplinary commission March 27 to answer to charges of professional misconduct. The hearing will take place in Hamilton Superior Court II.

The allegations against Recker and the lawsuit he filed against the sheriff last month are both related to the August 2005 murder trial of Jeremy J. Farris, the Roachdale man who was convicted of killing his girlfriend's 4-year-old son Tyler Fogarty in 2004.

Court documents, filed with the Indiana Supreme Court's State Disciplinary Commission in June of 2005, allege Recker violated the code of professional conduct based on a telephone conversation he had with attorney Jim Holder Jr., who was Farris' attorney during the murder trial.

Prior to Holder being hired, Recker, in his capacity as public defender, served as Farris' attorney immediately after Farris was arrest in November of 2004.

According to court documents, Farris' cell mate prior to the murder trial, Manuwell Ross, told authorities that Farris had confessed to him to the murder of Tyler Fogarty. Ross then asked to speak with his own public defender, Laura Paul, to tell her about the jailhouse confession.

Court documents state that Paul, who shares an office with Recker, sought Recker's advice for handling the matter. Recker allegedly took the knowledge that Farris had confessed to the murder and promptly alerted Farris' attorney Jim Holder that his client was confessing his guilt to other inmates. This action, according to the courts, was a violation of the law.

"By his foregoing conduct in using information relating to Paul's representation of Ross to Ross' disadvantage and without Ross' consent, the respondent (Recker) violated Indiana Rule of Professional Conduct 1.8(b) (2005), as imputed to him by Indiana Rule of Professional Conduct 1.8(k) (2005)," court documents state.

Meanwhile, Recker has filed a lawsuit against the sheriff claiming the sheriff acted unlawfully when confronting him about his actions relating to Farris' jailhouse confession.

Recker, according to the lawsuit filed in Marion County Superior Court Feb. 7, claims Frisbie came into Recker's office demanding to know about his conversation with attorneys Holder and Paul.

Court documents state that Recker attempted to leave the office but was stopped by Frisbie at the door. Recker claims the sheriff shoved him backwards and slammed the door to prevent him from leaving the office.

Recker's lawsuit claims Frisbie's actions were unlawful and unconstitutional. He is seeking monetary and other damages from the sheriff and accuses the sheriff of inflicting "extreme emotional distress."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: