In the Matter of Trista A. Hudson Respondent.
Discipline Action Hearing Officer William N. Riley
ATTORNEY FOR RESPONDENT Donald R. Lundberg Indianapolis,
ATTORNEYS FOR INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION
G. Michael Witte, Executive Director Seth Pruden, Staff
Attorney Larry Newman, Staff Attorney Indianapolis, Indiana
PER CURIAM OPINION
that Respondent, Trista Hudson, committed attorney misconduct
by failing to disclose exculpatory evidence and by
prosecuting a charge she knew was not supported by probable
cause. For this misconduct, we conclude that Respondent
should be suspended for at least eighteen months without
matter is before the Court on the report of the hearing
officer appointed by this Court on the Indiana Supreme Court
Disciplinary Commission's verified disciplinary
complaint. Respondent's 1998 admission to this
state's bar subjects her to this Court's disciplinary
jurisdiction. See IND. CONST. art. 7, § 4.
Background and Facts
relevant times, Respondent served as a deputy prosecuting
attorney in Porter County. In 2013, "Defendant" was
charged with five counts of child molesting, the first four
of which were tried together and are at issue here. Counts I
and II alleged criminal deviate conduct involving
Defendant's stepchildren K.C. and E.C., respectively.
Counts III and IV alleged fondling with respect to K.C. and
E.C. The four counts were based upon statements made by the
children to various police officials, and there was no
physical or medical evidence of child molesting.
days before trial, Respondent interviewed E.C. in preparation
for trial with a detective present. During this interview
E.C. recanted the facts underlying Count II, stating he had
lied at the request of his and K.C.'s biological father.
Respondent believed E.C.'s recantation was truthful.
Respondent did not disclose E.C.'s recantation to defense
counsel, nor did she withdraw Count II at any point prior to
or during trial. During her direct examination of E.C. at
trial, Respondent avoided asking any questions about the
allegations underlying Count II. E.C.'s recantation, and
the fact his father had coached him to lie, was revealed at
trial during defense counsel's questioning of E.C. and
other witnesses. Respondent did not immediately disclose to
the court that she had known about E.C.'s recantation for
nearly one week. After the prosecution concluded its
case-in-chief, the trial court addressed Respondent's
failure to disclose the recantation and determined that the
appropriate remedy was to enter judgment of acquittal for
Defendant as to all four counts.
Commission charged Respondent with violating Indiana
Professional Conduct Rules 3.8(a), 3.8(d), and 8.4(d) in
connection with the conduct described above. Following a
hearing, the hearing officer filed his report to this Court
concluding that Respondent violated each of those three rules
Commission also charged Respondent with violating Rules
8.1(a) and 8.4(c), based on the Commission's allegation
that Respondent's response to the Commission's
request for investigation was knowingly false. The hearing
officer concluded that the Commission had not met its burden
of proving these charges by clear and convincing evidence.
concedes a violation of Rule 3.8(a) but seeks our review of
the hearing officer's conclusions that she violated Rules
3.8(d) and 8.4(d) as well as certain underlying findings made
by the hearing officer. The Commission does not seek our
review of the hearing officer's conclusions that the
Commission failed to prove the Rule 8.1(a) and Rule ...