On Friday, October 27, 2023, Fox 59 reported that Fran Gull, judge of the Allen County Superior Court Criminal Division in Indiana, has struck down a filing made by former defense attorney Bradley Rozzi, who argued that Gull should be removed from the Delphi murder case due to claims of pressuring the defense attorneys to withdraw from the case. Gull ruled that Rozzi was no longer the legal counsel of record for Richard Allen, the accused, and ordered the clerk to remove Rozzi’s filing from the record books.
This development comes after a series of exchanges between Rozzi and Gull following a court hearing where Gull announced that both of Allen’s defense attorneys would be withdrawing from the case. Rozzi argued that Allen never signed off on a change of counsel, while Gull claimed that Rozzi was withdrawn from the case on October 19 and was no longer the legal counsel of record.
Based on these events, Rozzi filed a motion asking the judge to be recused and claiming that the judge “ambushed” and “coerced” the defense team to drop out. Rozzi argues that the judge’s actions would deprive Allen of his right to counsel and further delay a trial that has already taken nearly five years to reach an arrest. Rozzi also claims that the judge has ruled unethically in sealing pro-defense documents from public scrutiny. Despite these filings, Judge Gull has issued an order reiterating that both Rozzi and his co-counsel, Andrew J. Baldwin, have been dismissed and their names removed from the court docket.
Attorney David Hennessey, representing the defense team, argues that the judge does not have the authority to dismiss the lawyers based on a secret conversation in her chambers without a written withdrawal. He argues that Gull does not have the authority to direct the clerk to strip Baldwin and Rozzi’s names from the court docket without a filed Notice of Withdrawal or a valid written motion.
Hennessy plans to file a Motion to Reconsider, asking the court to reconsider the removal of appointed counsel without the opportunity to be heard. In the motion, Hennessy cites state law in contending that the judge “loses the authority and jurisdiction to make rulings on other court motions or issue orders other (than) a hearing” upon the filing of the Motion for Recusal and To Disqualify, which Gull ordered stricken from the record. Hennessy argues that there have been no valid motions to withdraw by appointed counsel and that there is no legitimate basis for disqualification.
The Delphi murder case has seen numerous twists and turns since the murder of Abby Williams and Libby German in 2017. The recent developments in the case, including the evidence leak traced back to Baldwin’s office, have added to the complexity of the case. The dispute over Gull’s authority and the removal of appointed counsel is the latest development in this high-profile case.