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Prosecutor Suspended for Eavesdropping on Lawyer-Client Communications

An Indiana prosecutor has been suspended for four years, without automatic reinstatement, for eavesdropping on conversations between lawyers and two men being held in death investigations.

The Indiana Supreme Court suspended Robert Neary, the chief deputy prosecutor in LaPorte County, in a Nov. 6 opinion (PDF).

Neary’s conduct “fundamentally infringed on privileged attorney-client communications and, at an absolute minimum, has caused significant delays and evidentiary hurdles in the prosecutions … , even assuming they still can be prosecuted at all,” the opinion said.

The court noted its opinion in the Taylor appeal that described the eavesdropping as “egregious,” “flagrant,” “unconscionable,” “shameful,” “abhorrent” and “reprehensible.”

“Nothing in the ‘more complete picture’ adduced during these disciplinary proceedings leads us to view [Neary’s] conduct with any less outrage or disapproval,” the court said.

The court said it decided on the suspension as it weighed the severity of Neary’s misconduct with mitigating factors that included a lack of prior discipline, the self-reporting of his conduct, and testimony about his good reputation.

“At the end of the day, these considerations persuade us that the door should not permanently be closed on respondent’s legal career,” the court said.

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