UPDATE (10/30/23): The Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court responded to Allen’s request in a rush order saying the petition for relief was verified and that any briefs opposing issuance or supplemental records must be filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court before Thursday, Nov. 9.
“Once the briefing is complete, the court will take the matter under advisement,” the order read.
INDIANAPOLIS — The suspect in the high-profile 2017 Delphi murders case has filed a brief with the Indiana Supreme Court alleging the trial court has “failed to perform the clear, absolute and imperative duty” imposed by Indiana court records rules and trial rules.
Richard Allen filed the relator’s brief in support of a petition for writs of Mandamus and Prohibition Monday, claiming:
- Hundreds of documents were improperly excluded from public access,
- A Franks Memorandum was removed without notice or hearing,
- The court attempted to remove Allen’s counsel over his objection,
- The court instructed any filings from Allen’s “chosen counsel” be removed from public record.
Allen claimed that the case involved one of the most high-profile matters in Indiana history.
He cited an emergency motion filed on April 5 to mark documents in the trial as “public” which would give access to the media and general population following the case.
Allen said that on June 8, when a member of the media requested access to the excluded records, the court ruled that all of the documents had been excluded from public access to comply with a “Gag Order” filed on Dec. 2, 2022.
Attorneys argued that the order only governed “extrajudicial” comments, not court filings.
Leaks of evidence
Previous reports showcased some of the major developments in the case before the Oct. 19 hearing where Judge Fran Gull explained, with TV cameras in the courtroom, that both Allen’s attorneys Andrew Baldwin and Brad Rozzi had withdrawn from the case in an “unexpected turn of events.”
This was following reported leaks of evidence by the defense team that prompted the move.
Allen claimed he learned in early October that someone had “surreptitiously and without authorization” photographed crime scene evidence in the case that was stored in Baldwin’s office.
Both Rozzi and Baldwin then immediately informed Allen of the theft and Allen responded to the court that he wanted both attorneys to remain on the case, according to the filing. He stated in a letter to the court that their [Rozzi and Baldwin] representation to date had been in his “best interest”
Motion for recusal
After the hearing on Oct. 19, the defense filed a motion requesting that Judge Gull recuse herself from the case after suddenly backpedaling on the previous story of his impending withdrawal from the case.
Judge Gull then issued an order that stated Rozzi had withdrawn from the case on Oct. 19 and was no longer the legal counsel of record for Richard Allen. The clerk was then ordered to remove Rozzi’s filing calling for the removal of Gull from the record books. Officials noted it was filed in error since Rozzi was no longer legally part of the case.
In Monday’s filing by Allen, he stated the removal of filings by “prior attorneys” as another reason for the brief with the Supreme Court to provide oversight to the “trial court.”
Allen stated he didn’t want both Baldwin and Rozzi to withdraw from the case and there were no circumstances under the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct to warrant their withdrawal.
Allen was charged with two counts of murder in the February 2017 deaths of Abby Williams and Libby German near the Monon High Bridge in Delphi.
Until Oct. 19, Allen was represented by lawyers Baldwin and Rozzi as co-counsel in the case.
New defense team
In Friday’s order, Judge Gull appointed two new attorneys to represent Allen including Robert Scremin and William Lebrato.
According to our news partner WANE15, Lebrato is the chief public defender in Allen County. In 2022, WANE reported that Lebrato was suspended for two to three weeks in February for an unknown reason. He was later reinstated under condition he “refrain from any retaliation.”
According to Scremin’s website, the Fort Wayne-based lawyer has 24 years of experience in criminal defense trial law. His listed experiences include work as a former deputy prosecutor and SWAT/narcotics detective.
The court has denied requests from the media to film the next hearing on Oct. 31. The court said this was due to “unauthorized filming and broadcasting of pre-hearing activities” during the previous hearing.