Indiana’s Supermajority–Ignoring Citizens Again

Where to start?

The Indiana Lawyer describes the issue: 

Despite opposition from nearly all of the organizations and individuals who testified, a bill that would allow the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor over certain cases that a local prosecutor declines to prosecute has advanced out of an Indiana Senate committee.

Senate Bill 436, authored by Rep. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, passed out of the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee on Tuesday with a 6-3 vote. Young, who chairs the committee, did not receive any Democratic support for his bill, and one Republican also voted against the measure.

Calling the legislation a response to “social justice prosecuting,” Young said his bill would allow the Office of the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor only if a local elected prosecutor “has announced as a matter of policy that the prosecuting attorney will not enforce all or part of a criminal statute enacted by the General Assembly,” or if “the attorney general has determined that a prosecuting attorney has categorically elected not to enforce all or part of a criminal statute enacted by the General Assembly.”

Mike Young’s sponsorship is the first clue that this is a terrible bill; Young has spent his considerable amount of time in Indiana’s legislature as a committed “culture warrior” and general pain in the you-know-where. The second clue comes from the fact that every single person who testified at the committee hearing opposed the measure.

Organizations ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana to the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC) were among those testifying against SB 436.

The former director of IPAC shared the organization’s opposition to the bill’s attack on prosecutorial discretion, pointing out that voters regularly respond to prosecutorial decisions they don’t agree with by voting elected prosecutors out of office. (Every four years, voters eject around a third of Indiana’s prosecutors.) A representative of the Public Defenders Council agreed that the bill abrogated voters’ rights.

What prompted this legislative over-reach?

Much of Wednesday’s testimony focused on the recent decision by Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears to no longer prosecute cases of simple possession of marijuana. In announcing that decision in September — about a week before he was appointed by county Democrats to succeed former Prosecutor Terry Curry — Mears said the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office should be devoting its resources to the violent crime in Indianapolis.

Young’s bill would deny county prosecutors the discretion to direct limited resources to the most serious threats to public safety. Once again, it would substitute the judgements of state-level lawmakers for those of local officials chosen by the people they serve.

One of the measure’s most egregious insults to local control was language requiring  counties in which the attorney general has overruled the local prosecutor to reimburse the attorney general for the expenses of prosecuting the case. As Doug Masson put it in his blog post on the bill,

The guest that nobody invited and nobody wanted is going to send you a bill for his presence. The AG just sends the bill to the Auditor who is required to pay the bill out of the general fund within 30 days, without appropriation. Because, screw your budget.

Despite the uniform opposition to the bill, it passed out of committee. Here is the vote breakdown:

Sen. Mike Young
Sen. Susan Glick
Sen. Mike Bohacek
Sen. Justin Busch
Sen. Aaron Freeman
Sen. Jack Sandlin

Sen. Karen Tallian
Sen. Lonnie Randolph
Sen. Eric Koch

If one of the “yeas” represents you, I’d suggest a call or email letting that person know that he or she should not rely on your vote in the next election.


  1. I have been waiting to see the fallout from Marion County becoming a solidly Democratic County. I should have known Mike Young would provide the answer.

  2. “…the fact that every single person who testified at the committee hearing opposed the measure.”

    “Organizations ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana to the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC) were among those testifying against SB 436.”

    The “Supermajority” is obviously NOT the majority nor is it super in it’s judicial actions. We are watching the same action transpire in the United States Senate as the will of the people and those testifying are ignored and overruled by Republicans. How many members of Indiana’s Supermajority are holdovers from Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence and their state level denials of the will of the majority of residents? SB 436 will pass into law just as RFRA and anti-abortion bills as all who testified against it are ignored; Republicans rule Indiana, “truth, justice and the American way” will again be ignored. Isn’t Curtis Hill still the Indiana Attorney General?

  3. Screwing with the criminal justice system has always been a favorite pass time with Republicans. It’s like they can’t get enough of it.
    First, it was their “zero tolerance” idea that took hold particularly with their bible wing. That went so well that it became the excuse for the extreme punishment of first graders and kindergartners. Not to mention putting their kidnapped children hostages in cages. No sparing the rod with those folks!
    Then they decided to privatize the prison system which paid off very, very well for wealthy investors. Gotta love that scheme, and their rich donors sure did.
    And they’ve turned an arrest for a DUI into a big money maker for another set of donors, the “counseling industry”. And made themselves look good in the process.
    Meanwhile, in Washington DC, the Republican “law and order” Party is attempting to make new law by excluding evidence and witnesses from a trial. So, it is little wonder that our own state government is now trying to take over the local prosecution of crimes with this new power grab. Kind of like the Hong Kong/China battle that has raged in the streets of Hong Kong for months. Only here in Indiana, my bet is that the majority will just yawn and scratch and ignore the whole thing.
    And that is how you lose your freedom, folks. One unjust move at a time.

  4. Frankly, I’m surprised they haven’t set up border checkpoints between Illinois, Michigan and Indiana to confiscate pot at the border and arrest the “druggies” bringing it in, Maybe that would be just the excuse Chicago would need to stop and search cars coming from Indiana for guns.

  5. Perhaps the citizen legislators will see the impracticality of this law.
    1.Since October the Marion County Prosecutor’s office has chosen not to prosecute over 300 minor drug offenses. Taking that to a statewide scale, how many special prosecutors would be needed and at what expense? How many officials would it take to scrutinize statewide decisions not to prosecute? Or can they legally just check up on Indianapolis, which is the target of the bill?
    2. Am I correct in understanding that the law would apply not just to messing around with Indianapolis prosecutors decisions but also to prosecutors in the rest of the state? Do legislators want to be responsible for bringing a potential bill to pay for a special prosecutor to their own home counties?

  6. This statement by Theresa Bowers is perfect –

    “And that is how you lose your freedom, folks. One unjust move at a time.”

  7. Thank you for the list of senators and how they voted. You made my job a little easier.

  8. I am sure Mike Young was given this bill from ALEC, so he just wrote his name at the bottom.

    The “social justice reformers” all point to Dallas County’s DA, John Creuzot, who was backed by George Soros in Texas. His primary focus was not to prosecute thefts of “personal items” like diapers with a value under $900.00 and bail bond reform.

    Of course, Young twisted it into a thief stealing personal cash from somebody’s wallet so that he makes sure the GOP’s rabid fan base supports his bill.

    I don’t understand why Hoosiers and Texans, who both benefit from very lax gun laws, are afraid of petty criminals. Why isn’t the answer more guns??

  9. Todd,i had to read that texas story,Atlantic,,im in texas every week driving truck, but has contact with many working class people,and some who just never work, and make a living in theft,like a handed down family traditions..( if ya ask ma where sonnys at,aw,he got caught again stealing,im headed down to see him at the county,,)sounds funny,but it maybe all a cheap thrill for most thieves down there, most its how they exist..probably why the TDC is always at capacity. talking with contractors who do work for others on their property,say, when they go home they take every nail and board with them…or its gone in the a.m. its also become a scapegoat against hispanics and any other race to be reality,its mainly white folk who dont work..the DAs picking is his own agenda,and hes overworked on petty cases..its a major headache.i can see why he foregoes the pot,over actual breakins where people get hurt. i spoke with a contractor who does remodeling work who came to NoDak to get some extra work,and rest,, he was amazed he could leave his tools on site,spread out on tables where he was wofking,and found the owners dropped off donuts the next day..nothing touched,,,he said down home texas they would have stole him blind locked in his trailer to haul them with..texas has a major issue,as im sure other states where drugs are prevlent, but theres also people who just live this way,in and out of jail all year,years,decades same issues..if we had living wage jobs,im sure alot of this would just dry cuts damn sure isnt doing them any good,and ignoring some of these issues will lead to some getting more brazzen…

  10. Peggy, thats a police state your reffering to, give trump another four years and ya get your wish,with mcconnell as the snitch

  11. Mike Young and his crew probably watched Reefer Madness before coming up with this idea. Given the massive ideological struggle (sarcasm alert) with liquor laws in Indiana the pot issue is not a surprise.

    A lot of judicial and the criminal justice vampires stand to lose fees, etc., if pot is legalized.

  12. Okay, do you think it’s NOW appropriate to call this whole situation, “a slippery slope?” I think, rather, I know, there is a can of worms being opened that those snubbing their nose at the rule of law will regret! It’s going to lead down a path of retribution and penalty (can of Whip @$$).

    The shameful conduct, this power grab, is such an obvious display of desperation, you can smell the fear! I don’t know if anyone out there has actually smelled fear, but it is an actual thing. I’ve smelled it, and if you have, you’ll never forget it.

    To fall in lockstep behind a bulldozer in a China shop, with such an obvious outcome, is just asking for a drastic slingshot reversal of fortunes for those who are trying to be run roughshod over. My personal opinion is that Trump will not be removed from office, and the arguments that have been made in his behalf, have permeated legislatures across this country and emboldened them. The backlash is going to be brutal!

    The wailing will be unforgettable, the stench of fear will be powerful, the loathing will be endless, and, it will have been all self inflicted! It is something that I’m not looking forward to by any stretch, because, human inclination is to “push the envelope” way past being full/possible. And while it might be entertaining to watch one’s opponents squirm and grovel, (what’s good for the goose is good for the gander) it’s not a compassionate thing to do, neither is it empathetic.

    Let’s face it, Americans do not love their enemies, whether they be foreign in nature or homegrown, tribalism of every stripe is the honeycomb of our society. Various spurts of magnanimous behavior seem to show a merciful side, but, it is just camouflage for our true nature.

    Yesterday’s column by Sheila Kennedy that we’ve all commented on, probably shows that for the most part, women do a much better job of supporting those not like themselves, and support fairness. Even though, we have some female Senators on the federal level, hopping on the unbelievable and mindnumbing GOP bandwagon of the impeachment trial. But, a majority of the women, a super majority of the women, recognize this disaster in waiting.

    This is a turning point in American government and, with the world watching, will affect mankind’s government across the globe. Governed by chaos, governments will devolve into anarchy!

    OR, because POTUS is immune to rule of law, because POTUS is the ultimate authority, POTUS has the authority to do anything he pleases, whether it be bribery, assassinations (both foreign and domestic) imprisonment to protect government (concentration camps) the slow slog towards dictatorship has turned into a Sprint. Remember Rex 84 is an actual thing! You better look that up if you’re not familiar. Either way, it ain’t gonna be good!

    We claim to be enlightened, but in actuality, instead of being evolved from lower life forms, we’ve devolved into some of the lowest. In the animal world, they will not annihilate their own species, but, we as a species are well on our way to extinguishing our own flame.

    Just like the monkey trap, where, a container with a big juicy piece of fruit is setting inside, is anchored to the table, the monkey sees it and reaches inside to grab the fruit, he can’t pull his hand out of the jar because his hand with the fruit is too big. The hunter just saunters up to the monkey trying to frantically get away, but it refuses to let go of the fruit. The monkey gets bopped in the head and they eat it’s brains! We as a species are well on that path, greed/gluttonous power looks like that big piece of juicy fruit in the container. Except, this time, there won’t be any brains extracted from the brainless.

  13. We have reached a critical stage on so many issues as we have surpassed a population and lifestyle and therefore civilization that is sustainable so therefore will end. While many of them are monumental the one that worries me most is democracy which is the only form of government that we thought of so far that permits the balance of necessary power and personal freedom.

    Of course democracy posits that those given the power of governance serve at the pleasure of a majority of informed citizens who are subject to that power. Very, very simple and effective, or it has been up until we invented social/entertainment media advertising/fake news/propaganda/brainwashing which allows wealth to misinform either a significant minority if not a majority of citizens to the degree that they can be made into extremists unwilling to collaborate. Trump is ample evidence of what is not sustainable. Many state legislatures corroborate that.

    The trite question is now what? The same question that faces extreme capitalism, the financial consequences of extreme energy resourcing, the consequences of extremely localized government, IOW tribalism, or extreme separation of races, religions or by any other cultural factors.

    What will follow the collapse; the rebirth of a new sustainable civilization or chaos?

  14. Karen Tallian led the charge against this awful legislation and is running for Indiana Attorney General on the Democratic ticket. She is so bright and such a straight-shooter. I hope your readers will read up on her and donate to her campaign. She would give the A.G.’s office a refreshing, clean breath of fresh air.

  15. “For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. 8 All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.”

    This excerpt of Matthew the 24th chapter had a double meaning, it was a prophecy to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. (Common era) but it was also a warning well into the future. Things were so bad in Jerusalem, people were eating their neighbor’s children, they would trade children so they wouldn’t have to eat their own. Now that is bad!

    Jesus Christ was sitting at the Mount of olives when his disciples asked him about the END of the constant string of inhumanity. And Christ gave a three-part prophetic answer. The destruction of Jerusalem was a foretell of future disaster. The corruption was rampant in Jerusalem, and Christ foretold the corruption and inhumanity in the distant future.

    Christ foretold that in the distant future, “Then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved……………”(Also in Matthew the 24th chapter) it’s a good read, and I was suggest everyone read it!

    Concerning Jerusalem’s destruction, and the desolation of the temple, it was a time when the Jewish faith was not followed faithfully but manipulated by men to cause misery amongst its citizens and separate/elevate the Jewish clergy to a corrupt unrecognizable antithetical and unscriptural ruling class. If this sounds familiar, it was foretold by Christ for the days in the distant future.

    Everyone can feel free to think this is ridiculous, but my suggestion would be to do some digging and research, because, there is a lot of information out there, a lot of opinions, instead of listening to people pooh-poohing any of this in general, find out for yourself.

  16. Today, I learned a new term: Cognitive flexibility – has been described as the mental ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts, and to think about multiple concepts simultaneously.

    From WIKI:
    Cognitive flexibility can be seen from a variety of viewpoints. A synthesized research definition of cognitive flexibility is a switch in thinking, whether that is specifically based on a switch in rules or broadly based on a need to switch one’s previous beliefs or thoughts to new situations. Moreover, it refers to simultaneously considering multiple aspects of thought at once, whether they be two aspects of a specific object, or many aspects of a complex situation.

    Cognitive flexibility has been more broadly described as the ability to adjust one’s thinking from old situations to new situations as well as the ability to overcome responses or thinking that have become habitual and adapt to new situations. As such, if one is able to overcome previously held beliefs or habits (when it is required for new situations) then they would be considered cognitively flexible. Lastly, the ability to simultaneously consider two aspects of an object, idea, or situation at one point in time refers to cognitive flexibility.

    Research has suggested that cognitive flexibility is related to other cognitive abilities, such as fluid intelligence, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. Fluid intelligence, described as the ability to solve problems in new situations, enables fluid reasoning ability.

    Given what I have read about Cognitive flexibility, the Reactionary-Right Wing-bible thumping base of the GOP lacks Cognitive flexibility. The Elected GOP officials may have Cognitive flexibility their base would not and the Elected officials would by necessity have to reflect a lack of Cognitive flexibility.

    The Evangelical bible thumper’s could not be flexible, the world is black and white – good and evil. The Authoritarian Leader would have to be consulted for the rules that would apply. Fluid reasoning would be lacking as a new situation may challenge a belief. The concept of Evolution is a good example. The overwhelming science is Evolution is a fact. However, the science can and is denied by some Bronze Age Mythology origin of life.

  17. ML,

    I don’t think the evangelical Bible thumper is as one dimensional as you might imagine. I have my own opinions on faith and science, and I don’t believe they are incompatible. But the evangelical block that is involved in this whole unseemly fiasco, uses their False faith as a bludgeon, To extract a desired result. You have to admit, desperation makes strange bedfellows. As far as I am concerned, science needs to do a better job at explaining the theory of evolution, because, most of the time it contradicts itself.

    Evolution? Or adaptation?!?!

    But, that’s a discussion for another time and more than likely, another blog, LOL.

    What these evangelicals are doing, it’s bait and switch. They are agitators, they are sleight-of-hand artists, and when everyone is focused on one thing, they are busily inserting their shenanigans in state legislatures, and throughout the judiciary. Obviously, it caught everyone else by surprise.

    I like to think that I can talk and chew gum at the same time, evangelicals like to hope people see them as one-dimensional. I’ve had some of the worst and most intense debates with evangelicals over there claimed beliefs. Let’s just say, and almost everything they do, you can chalk it up to Bric-a-brackish/Shiny object Subversion, to constantly move the goalposts until they’ve reached their particular goal. Everyone else is just flabbergasted!

    I for one don’t underestimate their determination, their fanaticism will destroy not only their opponents but themselves in the process. They see themselves as not worshiping God, they wish to make their own God, they wish to make their own Messiah, they’ve found one, and it’s the most antithetical “Anyone” could get towards Scripture. It’s a dangerous mix, religion and government should never be adjoined, the most devastating periods in human history have come at the hands of the self-righteous.

    Read up on self enhancement!

  18. “Mike Young’s sponsorship is the first clue that this is a terrible bill; Young has spent his considerable amount of time in Indiana’s legislature as a committed “culture warrior” and general pain in the you-know-where.”

    Sen. Mike Young has spent a 30 plus year career ignoring the needs of Hoosiers in his district by authoring or voting for just these types of bills. This year is the year you can send Young into retirement. This is the year you can do something to say no more to bad legislation like this. This is the year you can be heard.

    Pete Cowden is running against Mike Young because Pete knows that government can and should work for the people and not against them. Pete is a veteran that works to help other veterans and will work to help the people of Senate District 35 and Hoosiers across the state.

    If you think Senate Bill 436 is bad legislations that works against Hoosiers, please visit where you can donate or sign-up to volunteer to send a politician like Young into retirement.

  19. I haven’t read the bill, but it sounds like Young’s bill would put Indiana on track to follow the model of other states which provide an alternative when it comes to prosecution. I certainly don’t oppose that. I think it’s nuts that we give county prosecutors so much power in Indiana – absolute power over deciding who gets prosecuted. I think people are looking at particular issue that might get prosecuted (marijuana possession) and not seeing the bigger picture of the foolishness of giving prosecutor’s absolute protection.

    Remember several years ago when we had operators of local scrap metal company facing scpres of felony charges? Our newly elected local posecutor dropped the charges after the company forfeited a bunch of money to law enforcement. How wonderful was prosecutorial discretion then.

    Some time ago, I was publicly critical of Greg Zoeller who took the position as AG that he had an absolute right not to defend Indiana laws in court. (He also refused to exercise the statutory option of hiring outside counsel to defend state laws when the AG is uncomfortable of doing so.) The position effectively gave Zoeller an absolute veto over the law.

    That is in essence what you’re arguing for local prosecutors. That they should have an absolute veto over certain laws via prosecutorial discretion. What if a prosecutor decides he’s not going to prosecute sexual assaults? Our only remedy should be voting him out of office. (Assuming a male prosecutor.) My point is a person should not take a position on Sen. Young’s bill by focusing on a singular issue without considering the bigger issue of how much power you want to give local prosecutor. We’re now on the verge of handing a President absolute power with no checks on his authority but re-election. I don’t think most people on here would support that. Why would someone support that for a county prosecutor. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    A final note about Sen. Young. Yes, the Senator is a “cultural warrior” and he led the role in changing the rules to try to preserve GOP power in Marion County a few years ago. (That didn’t work out too well.) But if you look at Sen. Young’s entire record on criminal justice, I think you’d find he takes a lot of positions that reform-minded people support. For example, despite the fervent opposition of law enforcement, Young authored the bill that changed Indiana’s public intoxication laws which had previously given police officers enormous discretion to arrest anyone who had consumed any amount of alcohol and was in a public place. (Public places includes even your car…before the law was passed a person who was intoxicated used a designated driver in Indy and when the DD was pulled over by IMPD for a traffic violation the passenger was arrested for public intoxication.

    I think Young also is against the current abuses of civil forfeiture. My point is Young has regularly taken positions that irks law enforcement in favor of reform He’s hardly in the tank for law enforcement.

    Again, I say look instead at the bigger picture. Do we really want to give county prosecutors absolute authority in deciding whether to file charges? I never thought that was a good idea. I do have an opposite concern…what about baseless charges that are pursued by county prosecutors? I have a real problem with that. For example, the decision by then Elkhart County prosecutor Curtis Hill to prosecute those four kids for felony murders. He took that all the way to the SCT which had to tell him the obvious – felony murder didn’t apply in that situation.

  20. Just thought of another example of an abuse of prosecutorial authority. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, a Democrat, filed charges against a kid for gun possession based on the fact he had a picture of a gun on his phone. He was acquitted of that and other bogus charges. The kid had bitterly complained about his brother being arrested and Marion County law enforcement went after him big time, sending scores of officers to the family’s house to find evidence of wrongdoing. Prosecutors, regardless of whether they are Democrat or Republican, are always in a position where they feel compelled to protect the actions of law enforcement. I’m not sure how to stop prosecutions that should never happen. I do think we need to give judges more authority early on to dismiss these types of cases.

    By the way, for those who think Republican Brizzi was bad, I can make the case that, when it came to civil liberties, Democrat Curry was far worse. (Curry greatly expanded civil forfeiture in Indianapolis after he took over.) I support the Prosecutor Mears position on deprioritizing marijuana possession charges, by the way. I’m hoping he’s a fresh breath of air when it comes to civil liberties.

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