More than three years after it was filed, a case alleging professional misconduct by a Putnam County public defender has been settled.
Indiana Supreme Court Hearing Officer Daniel J. Pfleging entered a judgment in favor of James Recker.
"The court concludes that respondent did not commit the attorney misconduct charged and therefore enters judgment in his favor," the decision read. "We find that respondent, James R. Recker, did not engage in attorney misconduct."
The case against Recker was filed by Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter in June 2005.
The allegations against Recker stemmed from a case in which he defended Jeremy J. Farris of Roachdale, who was convicted by a jury in August 2005 of murdering 4-year-old Tyler Fogarty in 2004.
Recker was appointed to defend Farris immediately after Farris' arrest, but Farris consequently hired Bainbridge-based attorney James Holder.
Court documents said a cellmate of Farris' told authorities that Farris had confessed to the cellmate that Farris had killed Tyler Fogarty. The cellmate then spoke to his lawyer -- Laura Paul, who was a Putnam County public defender who shared an office with Recker -- about Farris' confession.
At that point, Paul sought advice from Recker on how the matter should be handled, court records said. In turn, court documents said, Recker contacted Holder to tell him Farris was talking to other jail inmates about Farris' involvement in Tyler Fogarty's death.
The verified complaint against Recker alleged that Recker had violated three Indiana Professional Conduct Rules:
* An attorney is prohibited from revealing information relating to representation of a client without the client's informed consent;
* That use of information relating to representation of a client to the disadvantage of the client without the client's informed consent is prohibited;
* That while lawyers are associated in a firm, certain prohibitions that apply to any one of them apply to all of them.
"The primary issue in this case is whether respondent and attorney Laura Paul were 'associated in a firm' at the time of the relevant events such that Paul's client was also deemed to be the respondent's client," Pfleging's ruling said.
The court's decision was that although Recker and Paul were both public defenders and worked out of the same office while acting as such, they were not part of the same law firm in a technical sense.
In the ruling, Pfleging said Paul was unaware that Recker was representing Farris, and Recker believed Farris' cellmate was a client of Paul's private practice.