By Lesley Weidenbener
The state will seek to reinstate criminal charges against the former head of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission who had been accused of official misconduct.
Last month, a Marion County judge dismissed charges against David Lott Hardy, who was fired by former Gov. Mitch Daniels following a scandal involving the utility agency and Duke Energy.
Hardy faced charges that he failed in 2010 to follow state rules for private communications with companies that the utility commission regulates. Emails uncovered by The Indianapolis Star's John Russell showed that Hardy had been communicating with Duke Energy officials about hiring the agency's chief counsel, Scott Storms, while the attorney was overseeing a case involving Duke.
He faced three charges. Two of them - D felonies - were based on accusations that Hardy failed to disclose private communications as required. A third charge - also a D felony - accused Hardy of helping Storms while allowing him to oversee proceedings involving Duke.
Superior Court Judge William Nelson dismissed the charges in part because he said the law under which he was charged was poorly written at the time of the alleged offense. Legislators later amended that law.
Last week, Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office filed a notice that it would appeal that decision.
"This is an issue of law regarding our legislature's intent," Zoeller said in a statement. "If the legislature intended to make a 2012 change in the law retroactive as the trial court ruled, it would have written that into the statute, and it did not.
"We respect the trial court but contend its ruling is incorrect, the 2012 change is not retroactive and the defendant can and should face charges under the law in effect in 2010," he said. "We ask the Court of Appeals to reinstate the charges so that the trial can proceed and a verdict can be rendered."
Lesley Weidenbener is executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.