Letters and Opinion

Donations to Brizzi were appropriate

May 1, 2010

Over the course of my 41 years as a member of the Indiana Bar, I have worked to help improve the justice system in Marion County and the state. Many of those activities have involved working to uphold the integrity of the bench and bar. You can imagine my surprise, then, upon reading [an April 5 article] in IBJ falsely impugning my integrity and the integrity of our law firm.

Specifically, [that article] suggested that an associate of this firm and I secured a sentence modification for Paula Willoughby in 2009 that was based on campaign contributions instead of the merits of that particular case. These suggestions are baseless and are the result of reckless journalism.

I represented Willoughby in her original trial in March 1992. That trial ended in a mistrial, and I represented her in the retrial in August 1992. My involvement in Willoughby’s case ended in 1996, when the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed her conviction following appeal and reduced her sentence from 110 years to 70 years. I have had no involvement in her sentence modification whatsoever, contrary to the false suggestions in the reporting of this matter.

The insinuation that campaign contributions made by me and associate Jennifer Lukemeyer were improper and resulted in the modification is equally inaccurate. Over the course of my career, I have given to candidates of both parties. In the last election for Marion County prosecutor, I made a donation to the campaigns of both Carl Brizzi and his opponent, Melina Kennedy. My motivation in making these and other donations has been to support well-suited candidates to improve our government. I have never made an improper donation or accepted an improper advantage from making a donation, and neither has Jennifer Lukemeyer. There is a lengthy tradition of campaign support from members of the Indiana Bar to candidates in local elections.

Readers of the articles covering the Willoughby case and several other cases should note that no effort was made by the media to disclose the merits of granting the requested relief. The media has injured its own reputation and credibility as a reliable source of information as a result.

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James H. Voyles Jr.

Voyles Zahn Paul Hogan & Merriman

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