Crime
Punishment 
Barney Fife
Politics 
Mayor Peterson 
Parkinson's

The Conversation


IMM &
Scott Newman




"[Walter Dye] will be executed, oh, probably a year or two after my death. With the system as it is today, most of the people I put on death row will outlive me."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"This is not a country that  really values conformity.  It's a country that has elevated deviance to a large degree, as  well as disagreement. 
We don’t value civility."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"I first suspected a problem  three years ago when I was 
trying a murder case involving a drug dealer who shot a 6-year-old. When I was making  a point, I slammed my hand  down on a table. My hand  began trembling afterwards."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Indy Men’s Magazine    
December 2002

Interview by Jennifer Harrison            
Photographs by John Bragg

 

IMM: What TV crime show do you think is the most realistic?
SN: Law & Order is fairly realistic. Except if I were the D.A. in an office that had that many confounding, unusual horrific cases, you'd have to commit me to some kind of institution. The unrealistic thing is that all of those unique cases don't happen in one jurisdiction, thank God. The other unrealistic thing is the cowardliness of the D.A. Here [in Indy] we have a prosecutor, I like to think, who's a little more fierce and fearsome than the D.A.s on that show who are always looking for a way out of a tough situation - always looking to plea bargain everything, or avoid political or public obloquy. That depiction of a prosecutor as a cowardly politician is a little discouraging.

IMM: After the 9/11 attacks, many Americans spent time reflecting on their heroes. Growing up, who were the people you looked up to?
SN: Growing up, my hero was my mother, who raised my sister and me on her own, held a job and was completely devoted to us. She was a true hero. Andy Griffith was also a hero to me. Andy Griffith helped raise me. I learned a lot of what I learned about being a man from him. I'm still totally in love with that show. One of the most exciting moments of my life was when I went out to dinner with my family and there in the lobby of the hotel was Don Knotts. I marched up to him, introduced myself and told him he was the funniest guy in the world. He stood up and shook my hand and seemed to be genuinely moved that a kid my age worshiped his comedy.

IMM: What is it about Knotts that makes him funny to you?
SN: Maybe it's the aspects of him I see in myself and other people that I work with. There's something funny about the assertion of authority that doesn't quite get it. It isn't quite as strong as it wants to appear to be. It's funny to me because I'm an authority figure. I'm probably one of the principal authority figures in this community. At times you hear yourself, and you think you're giving the Barney Fife lecture about the rock. "Here at the rock we have three rules. The first rule is to obey all rules."

IMM: You mentioned your mother...
SN: I grew up with a single mother. My parents divorced when I was 3 years old. I had a plain-Jane suburban childhood in the Chicago area. I got interested very early in short-wave radios. I thought it was exciting to hear news or music from anywhere else other than where I was.

IMM: What countries did you listen to?
SN: I became interested in Latin American radio stations. There were hundreds of little broadcast stations in the jungles of Latin America, broadcasting music. I took an interest in learning Spanish. I eventually traveled to Latin America as an exchange student. I lived in Chile for a few months.

IMM: In high school?
SN: Yes, it was 1977. I was 16. Chile was still in a state of emergency following a coup d'etat there. There was a curfew for all people. But it was a great experience. I worked on a farm. I attended a Catholic school and cemented my knowledge of Spanish. In subsequent years that has proven useful.

When I moved to Indianapolis in 1986 there was a tiny Hispanic population. You had to get out a magnifying glass to find them. Nothing like the influx we've seen in the last five years. There have to be 60,000 to 70,000 despite what the U.S. census says, which is 33,000. That's way off.

IMM: How has law enforcement adapted to this change?
SN: Like everybody else in the system, we were completely unprepared, and we're still completely overwhelmed by the needs and our inability to communicate. There are a lot of people who say, "Why don't they learn our language like everybody else?"

IMM: And your reaction?
SN: The fact is, they do want to learn our language and they are learning our language, but in the meantime there are people being beaten, people being robbed, women who are victims of domestic violence, Hispanics who don't speak English who are witnesses to serious crimes. We need to service those people. That means we need people who can speak Spanish. We need materials printed in Spanish. We're just way behind in doing that.

IMM: You performed in the Indiana Repertory Theater's benefit show the last few years. Are you a closet actor?
SN: Every year, the IRT does a show to raise money where tin-pot celebrities like myself take roles and perform on stage. Like many trial lawyers, I'm a bit of a ham. Getting up in front of a camera, getting up in a courtroom full of jurors and the public. There is definitely a public persona to it, but privately I'm pretty quiet.

IMM: Does the Indianapolis media provide an accurate picture of local crime?
SN: They do a decent job of scratching the surface. But it's hard for them to convey a deeper sense of what the problems are. The print media do a better job, just by their very nature delving more in-depth. TV stations try to be a little more than "if it bleeds, it leads." Channel 13 recently did a forum on criminal justice problems. So I think they're making a good effort. But it's hard when you watch the nightly news to really understand what we deal with on a daily basis.

IMM: How could they do better?
SN: I'm not sure they can, given what the public wants. The public wants stories about horrible and shocking things. And I'm the same way. But, for example, we have a whole section of the office called Street Level Advocacy.

IMM: Which does what?
SN: These prosecutors are assigned to neighborhoods instead of  courtrooms. They work with neighborhoods and police to tailor crime reduction solutions to each area. That's a whole new paradigm of what a prosecutor can do. We've gotten national attention inside the criminal justice industry for the work we're doing in this area. But we've gotten almost no local media coverage because the media doesn't know how to cover something like that. 

Instead of just dealing with murder and robberies, these prosecutors are dealing with a lot of the low-level nuisance crimes that just slaughter the quality of life in a neighborhood. That can be prostitution, vandalism, thievery or car smash-and-grab and petty drug dealers. How do you cover that? There's no TV show called Law & Order: Community Prosecution because it doesn't make very entertaining TV.

On the Eastside a local pastor and the community prosecutor came to me on a prostitution issue. Together we created a new program called the Red Zone, which targets people who patronize prostitutes. When they're caught, as part of their sentence, they come to a face-to- face meeting with the community. It takes the anonymity out of the prostitution racket.Then they pick up trash for the next six hours. They take a syphilis test and fill out a questionnaire for the health department. For many of them it's an experience they don't want to repeat.

IMM: How do these prosecutors get connected with the community?
SN: The first thing we did was put them out in the community instead of giving them an office in the City County Building or the courthouse. We're out in the community going to meetings, introducing ourselves to neighbors, going to events and hearing what the community has to say. And what the community is saying often is not "Help us with our murder problem." Or "Help us with our rapes." It's "My kids are coming home from the bus stop and they’re walking past prostitutes.

IMM: What are the results?
SN: Out of about 100 people who have been through the program, maybe one or two have been re-arrested for patronizing a prostitute in the last two years.

IMM: What brought you to Indy?
SN:  I decided I wanted to go to a city where I didn't know anybody, to see if I could make it on my own. I'd heard a lot of bad things about the justice system in Chicago, the whole thing seemed like a cesspool. I interviewed in Milwaukee, Louisville and Indianapolis. I was in Indianapolis dropping off a resume when I met Steve Goldsmith. He struck me as a sharp guy and not a political hack, a person of substance and smarts. And Indianapolis struck me as a wide-open town in terms of being welcoming to outsiders, where if you worked hard and distinguished yourself, you could do well.

IMM: Why run for county prosecutor?
SN: I'd been a deputy prosecutor for a few years. Then I'd been a federal prosecutor for almost six years. I wanted to get back in the local court system in a way I could make a difference. The only way to do that was to run for prosecutor myself. I didn't think the prosecutor who was the incumbent Jeffrey Modisett was doing a very good job. Fortunately, I didn't know what I was getting into. I had no concept of what it was like to run against an incumbent who had a million dollars in the campaign bank account. It was a horrible experience. Fortunately, I was blithely ignorant. I kept myself upbeat by not reading the newspaper or watching TV or listening to the radio during most of the campaign. My opponent was ripping my lungs out in TV commercials. But I was bopping along in a good mood because I never watched any of it.

IMM: This was in 1994?
SN: Yes. And I was lucky in a couple of ways. First, it was a terrific year for Republicans, probably the best year in my lifetime. Some people think if a trained monkey ran that year as a Republican, he would have been elected. And some people think that's what happened in my case. Second, you had a moderately unpopular incumbent in the prosecutor's office who made the mistake of being called out by me in that campaign. I attacked him early and often to try to show people there was a problem in the prosecutor's office.

IMM: How did he react?
SN: He made the huge mistake of coming after me instead of ignoring me. He made me a household word by attacking me and saying my name in his commercials. People sat up and took notice of that race. I had a similar situation in '95 where a guy attacked me harshly. I learned from what Modisett did in '94. I ignored my opponent and just told people what I had been doing for the last four years, and that was enough to have a powerful victory. The third thing that came together in '94 was crime was really cresting. The crack cocaine epidemic was upsetting people, and rightly so. Everyone was paying close attention to the prosecutor’s race. My opponent had not defined himself strongly during his four years in office. ... I was able to edge out a victory.

IMM: You've opposed plea bargaining during your term in office, why is that?
SN: There are plea bargains and plea agreements. We have to have plea agreements for the simple reason that we prosecute 40,000 criminal cases every year. And we have roughly 15 criminal courts. Those courts can't handle 40,000 trials. If everyone demanded a trial on their case the system in Marion County would collapse. So there's a place for plea agreement. We've developed a principled, strong approach to it, which in almost every case is to demand a plea to the lead or most serious charge. That's one of the first things I did when I took office. So we're not routinely dumbing down our cases just to move them through the pipes.

IMM: What was the result?
SN: Everybody said the system would run off the rails. The National Law Journal called me the kamikaze prosecutor. But none of that happened. And I think we restored strength and integrity to the criminal justice system, which has given people some faith.

IMM: When you talk about dumbing down a sentence, what do you mean?
SN: In the business it's called charge bargaining, or you routinely drop a lead or more serious charge for a plea to a lesser charge just to keep the cases moving through the criminal justice system. The problem is, if you keep doing that, the batterer looks like a mischief maker, and the murderer looks like someone who was merely reckless. You create a self-sustaining system of dumbing down punishment and manufacturing more persistent criminals, who think they can get away with anything. The next time that person gets arrested and the judge looks at their record and tries to figure out what kind of bond needs to be set or how they need to be handled, it creates a false impression of the danger that person represents. That situation continues to repeat itself until you get a guy who really hurts or even kills somebody. Then a news reporter finds out this person has killed or raped before and gotten by with it. That is a system that's broken.

IMM: What cases or criminals stand out in your memory as the most frightening?
SN: Probably the most depressing case I was involved in was the triple murder of the three children on Hamilton Street. There was a 2-year-old, a 7-year-old, and a 14-year-old that were murdered by their estranged stepfather and grandfather, a guy named Walter Dye. It was a tough case. It was all circumstantial. No one saw Dye go in or out, just the three victims. To solve the case and prosecute it effectively meant using just about every employee the crime lab had. We had blood, fingerprints, DNA, we had hair and fiber, we had every imaginable physical evidence. By the end, I felt I had crawled around every inch of that apartment and wallowed in physical evidence for months to get to the point where the Supreme Court said the evidence was overwhelming.

It was a very ugly crime scene. The 2-year-old and 7-year-old were piled into garbage bags and thrown in the alley. The unwrapping of those bags had to be presented to the jury on video. It depressed me for many, many weeks, although we did put Walter Dye on death row.

The other one I just can't shake were the Mathias murders. Fred Mathias was the pastor at Northminster Presbyterian Church. It was approaching Christmas, and a couple of guys came into their house and buried an ax in the back of Cleta Mathias' head while her husband watched. Then [they] buried the ax in his head. It was the most horrific case I have ever seen. I was terrified that case was not going to be solved. And it wasn't solved for a year. I'm pleased the two people responsible went to prison, but I'll never forget that crime. It was brutal.

IMM: In those two cases, what sentences were handed down?
SN: Walter Dye was sentenced to death. Paul Brightman and Sean Rich got 65 years and 55 years if I remember correctly [Rich actually received 93 years].

IMM: Has Dye's death sentence been carried out?
SN: No, his death sentence was temporarily vacated by Judge Gifford. It was revealed on post-conviction petition or habeas corpus that one of the jurors had lied about her background. And Judge Gifford set the death sentence aside. I think it was an incorrect ruling and expect the death sentence to be restored. He'll be executed, oh, probably a year or two after my death [laughs]. With the system as it is today, most of the people I put on death row will outlive me.

IMM: What factors do you consider when selecting jurors?
SN: You can win or lose a case in jury selection by the rapport you establish with them. I don't have any set formula. I don't use consultants. I've always done well with juries when I've used my instincts about people. I'm afraid if I use an expert or a consultant, they'll just mess with my instincts. I don't want anybody, frankly, too offbeat or too quirky. Or anybody who seems like they won't listen. My side has to get all 12 of them to agree. And it is very difficult today to get 12 Americans from every walk of life to agree to anything, let alone beyond a reasonable doubt. This is not a country that really values conformity. It's a country that has elevated deviance to a large degree, as well as disagreement. We don’t value civility.

IMM: It's hard enough getting two grownups to decide where to go to dinner.
SN: Exactly.

IMM: What is your take on the death penalty?
SN: I favor it. And I believe it's my duty to support it. Primarily because the Constitution presumes it. And the people of Indiana have endorsed that by adapting it as the law of the state. I don't have the life-or-death decision, but I do have the decision whether to expose somebody to that penalty by a jury or a judge. And so it's my job.

IMM: When is it called for?
SN: I believe that in the worst of the worst cases, it is a just punishment. Some of these cases are so off the charts that we need to seek the ultimate punishment and show that we're not helpless in the face of these most horrible crimes. I know reasonable minds differ about that. I don't really think of it as being a strong deterrent anymore because of the way it's carried out or not carried out in our system. Unfortunately, it's almost become a random event when someone actually gets executed. I think that makes the deterrent argument a lot less powerful than it should be.

IMM: It stands to reason your work would lead to death threats. How often do you get them?
SN: Probably not as often as people think. Most crooks expect prosecutors to do what I do.They don't take it personally. They know I'm going to bang heads with them and put them in prison and keep them there. They present as much, or even more, danger to their own attorneys. If those guys and women don't do a good job, then the defendant feels betrayed. But I get a death threat three or four times a year. There's a guy in prison now who sends me death threats regularly and signs his name and uses his own handwriting. I interpret him to be one of those people who wants to stay in prison. He sends me these very generic threats. He threatens me. He threatens my children, and I don't have any children. So he really doesn't put his heart into the research.

IMM: How do death threats affect how you live your life?
SN: I take them seriously, but I don't let them impact my life much. There are certain times when I have a gun a little closer at hand.

IMM: Have you had any challenges as prosecutor you didn't expect?
SN: I went in with my eyes open, so I haven't seen too many surprises. I've seen a lot of situations, more than I expected, that were no-win propositions. The most recent example is that of Michael Clements, an elderly homeowner.

Somebody invades his house, wrestles with him, then leaves the house. Clements pursues him and shoots him in the back. Now to me, that didn't look like self defense. It wasn't even a close call as a legal matter. But as a matter of public sympathy, people were very angry with me for daring to charge this elderly home-owner who had his home invaded. I was sympathetic to him, but I knew what the right legal decision was. That was a no-win situation. If I did the right thing, the public would be mad. If I didn't do the right thing, then I'm departing from my standard of ethics and integrity.

IMM: Could he have chased him to the edge of his property?
SN: The self-defense law says you have to have an imminent threat of bodily injury to yourself or another person, or an invasion of your property that's going on at the time. But if they've left the house and they're down the street, you can't shoot them in the back and walk away and sit down in your easy chair and let them bleed to death, which is what Clements did. He didn't even call the cops.

IMM: Being a prosecutor is not a popularity contest just like being a parent.
SN: It really isn't. I don't think a prosecutor should strive to be loved. A prosecutor should strive to be respected.

IMM: Any personal challenges on the job?
SN: The personal challenge that wore me down somewhat was that I'm a politician whether I like it or not. That means many members of the public presume I don't care, that I'm a coward. That I do what I do for the wrong reasons, or that I want power for its own sake.

IMM: What changes have you seen in your office with Bart Peterson as mayor?
SN: Bart is easy to work with. He's a genuinely nice and courteous man. That's on the good side. On the bad side, there's been a lot less collaboration between the mayor's office and the prosecutor's office. Mayor Goldsmith was a hard guy to work with because be was so demanding. And even though I'd been elected prosecutor, I think he still thought I worked for him, like I had in the mid ‘80s. So he was constantly summoning me to the mayor's office and throwing challenges in my face to do a better job. That was good for the community, and it made me a better prosecutor.

IMM: As far as drugs -- how are we doing with crack, which was a big problem in the mid-l990s?
SN: Indianapolis is still predominantly a crack cocaine town. There's less of it than there was, but there's still way too much. When I took office, close to 60 percent of all the inmates in the Marion County jail tested positive for cocaine. Today, the men are testing positive at about 32 percent, and the women at about 43 percent. That's still high, but it's been almost cut in half among the male offenders. The greatest single predictor I look at as a barometer of violence we're going to have [in the city] is the level of cocaine in the blood-stream of people coming into jail.

IMM: How is the drug scene changing?
SN: Methamphetamine is starting to make inroads here. It's everywhere in Indiana heavily but [not so much] in Indianapolis. I think it’s too much to expect that it won't land here pretty heavily in the future. Currently we're [testing] at about 2 or 3 percent positive in the jail on methamphetamine.

IMM: Indianapolis has had some racial problems between law enforcement and the black community. Is that changing?
SN: The city still has racial problems. From where I sit, they're less charged than they were in the mid-'80s. I think the best thing we can do to bridge that has been community policing and community prosecution. I see the racial problem in my job all the time. 

I prosecuted a murder case where a young African-American guy stomped a young white guy to death after leaving Washington High School, at a Village Pantry across the street. Most of the witnesses were black school kids. The battle I had to get support from their parents was racially charged and difficult. I think the feeling was we were only taking the case seriously because the victim was white. It was a painful process to deliver those eyewitnesses to the court. I had many people screaming at me along the way. Moms and dads saying, "my kid is not going to get involved, is not going to say what they saw." So it's still a battle we fight in the courtroom.

IMM: What more do you think needs to happen to reduce that tension?
SN: People ought to have dinner at each other's houses. It's easy to demonize people you don't really know. I'm not big on a big march, or the press conferences with local pastors. I think what really counts are the day-to-day relationships where people get to know each other.

IMM: If you could change or introduce one or two crime laws in Indiana, what would they be?
SN: It's bad timing for this, but I think our system should have the potential for pretrial detention like we do in the federal system. Where if a person has proven by clear and convincing evidence to be dangerous so that no set of pretrial conditions can guarantee community safety, we ought to be able to hold them pretrial until that case is resolved. Right now, rapists, robbers, arsonists, bombers - no matter how dangerous they may be, we have to set a bond unless they're charged with murder. That's a scary situation. Say I've got an armed robber who has a dangerous criminal history, and I have to tell the victim two things. One, we have to let this guy out on bail. And two, I have to give the defense your home address because the system requires me to give that out in discovery.

IMM: And the other?
SN: Not my idea - a district judge in New Jersey thought of this. [The idea] is not to compel the defendant to testify, which you can't do under the Constitution, but to compel the defendant to create a version of events submitted to the courts under seal in the early stages of the case; so that if later the defendant decides to testify, the defendant cannot tailor his story to what he now knows the evidence to be. The biggest abuse in the system is that I have to provide all my evidence to the defense, every scrap of physical evidence, every witness testimony before trial. So the defense has seen exactly what I'm going to prove, and by the time they hit the witness stand, they can and frequently do tailor a story, or version of events, to fit the physical evidence. That's an abuse.

Like in the Walter Dye case, he found out we had bloody fingerprints on a certain table near the body. Well lo and behold, when he takes the stand, he admits, "I was there, I discovered the body, I checked the pulse, I got some blood on my fingers and I touched the table, and that's how the bloody fingerprints got there." Well, that was a bunch of hooey. But he tailored his story to our evidence.

IMM: I want to get to the local jail situation, but let's talk nationally first. From 1970 to 2000, the U.S. population increased 37 percent while the prison population increased more than 900 percent. Why?
SN: Two reasons. One is more people are crooks today than in the 1970s because of the same problem of failure of the family. The second reason is the states have cracked down harder on punishing crime. That's been a trend nationally, to have longer fixed sentences for crimes. In some cases that has led to the wrong people being in prison for too long a period of time. But I also have to say I believe it's led to a reduction in crime in this country. It's a blunt instrument, but it has worked to some degree in making this country a safer place to live. The big problem is at the back end. We had 660,000 people come out of prison last year in this country. And very little serious work is being done to re-integrate those people into society. This is not about coddling prisoners. There's a moral duty in the system to work harder to re-integrate anyone it can. Because they're coming out, and they can do a lot of harm. They can take away all of the gains we've ever made in making this country safer.

IMM: What do you think we can do to help those people be ready to join the community again?
SN: There needs to be a greater emphasis on job preparedness.Then when they get out, I think you need to keep the coercive hammer there to help them make the right choices.

IMM: Some people say our prison population nationally is too large. We're imprisoning our citizens at a higher rate than any other industrial country. Can you respond to that?
SN: Well it's certainly not a point of pride. I think it's a point of national shame. But I defy anybody to go into the Indiana prisons and show me a large number of people who should be let out.

IMM: As far as overcrowding in Marion County jails, can you provide some perspective on the problem?
SN: What a lot of people don't realize is that the jail is 90 percent people awaiting trial. The [county] jail is not primarily full of people serving sentences. People serving sentences go out to state prison. If the court system gets flabby and it takes more days to get a case to trial, then you have more people streaming in the front door than are leaving out the backdoor. Then you have jail crowding even where crime has gone down. The point is, it's nor always intuitive what causes jail crowding.

IMM: Is some of the backlog caused by people awaiting trial who can't afford bail?
SN: Part of it. Some of the delays are owing to under staffing of the public defender's office or the prosecutor's office.

IMM: So if we had more criminal justice staff, we could process cases faster and have less demand on the jail system?
SN: Right. Take the DNA lab. A guy is a serious rape defendant, he's not able to make a high bail. He's sitting in jail waiting for trial. And the DNA lab has not finished processing the evidence. So the defense wants a continuance, and the prosecutor says, "absolutely." So the case gets continued for 45 to 60 days. That's 60 days worth of a jail bed being occupied because of the crime lab. It's a resource issue for the crime lab, but it's a jail crowding issue as the system moves forward. 

We also need good data as to who is in jail and why the crowding is happening. Our computerized criminal justice data system is good at keeping the wheels of the system turning. But it's not good at giving us a snapshot of the data we need to manage this problem. That's why creating a whole new data system that can be mined for the management of the jail population is part of the long-term solution. And we're doing that now. Building more jail space is somewhat helpful but it certainly won't solve the problem.

IMM: Maybe we need to rethink allocating resources better to relieve the need to build more jail space.
SN: I've advocated the creation of a public safety planning commission. Many cities have these. It's a commission of [people] inside the system, [plus] criminal justice experts, some academics, some staff support to analyze the data, and citizens to make resource choices. The other answer is building an arrestee processing center, which would allow us to triage cases the minute they walk in the door. So in a matter of hours we'd know if this is a person that should occupy a jail cell or could be held on home detention with electronic monitoring. That's being built, at least I hope it will, by the first quarter of next year.

IMM: What is the cost to jail a prisoner annually?
SN: About $25,000 a year in Marion County, [Indiana].

IMM: We've recently learned you've been diagnosed with Parkinson's. When did you begin suspecting there was a problem?
SN: I first suspected a problem three years ago when I was trying a murder case involving a drug dealer who shot a 6-year-old. When I was making a point, I slammed my hand down on a table. My hand began trembling afterwards. And I thought, "Wow, I'm really getting into this." Then I learned about a year ago I had Parkinson's.

IMM: Can anything be done?
SN: Right now, not a whole lot. There is no cure for Parkinson's. But there's a lot of research going on. And it's a disease that shows promise of eventually finding a cure. So I'm hopeful I can benefit from that research. I've also started a fitness program to get in the best shape I can be going into this.

IMM: How does it affect you right now?
SN: I have classic symptoms. Tremors and rigidity on one side of my body.

IMM: When January rolls around and you step down from this position, will you take some time off?
SN: I’m planning to take a month off.

IMM: What will you do?
SN: Travel I hope. I hope to take a trip, maybe to the Caribbean for a week or two. Sleep a little, write a little. I'm thinking about some kind of a writing project. Something to mine the material I've developed over the last 17 years working as a prosecutor. Stop and smell the roses for a few weeks. My wife thinks I'm constitutionally incapable of stopping and smelling those roses for an entire month. She thinks I'll go nuts. But I'm going to prove her wrong.

IMM: You're going to become a partner at Barnes and Thornburg?
SN: Right.

IMM: Why that firm?
SN: I know a lot of people there that I respect. I've always made career decisions simply on the people I want to work with. One of my mentors, Larry Mackey, who prosecuted the Oklahoma City bombing cases, is a partner there. Another friend of mine, Bob Grand, is the office managing partner. I'll be in commercial litigation. I'm not sure what my niche will prove to be. I'm going to start by doing what I know, which is trying lawsuits or trying not to try lawsuits; in some cases that's what you want to do. Over time, I wouldn't mind branching out and learning other things. I'd like to develop some transactional work, which is building things, forming partnerships, employing people, the more positive side of the business experience.

IMM: What will you miss about the prosecutor's office?
SN: The esprit de corps. It's a bunch of really good people who work hard and are all in the same boat. And it's a tough boat.

IMM: What won't you miss?
SN: I won't miss being a politician. I won't miss the weight of having people presume I'm not in the job for the right reasons, that I'm a power grabber or a guy who likes to see his face on television. Actually, it will be nice to go out in the morning, collect the newspaper and know I won't be in it. And I won't miss the pager going off in the middle of the night because something horrible has happened.

IMM: Do you think you'll run for public office again?
SN: I doubt it. ||



Thistle Creek Chronicle
Content Desk, Indianapolis.
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Copyright Dec. 2002. All rights reserved.