By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Several motions on the table in a federal lawsuit against Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings could affect the case. And they could be decided soon.
Cummings was sued in 2012 by Walter Goudy, a man who served 15 years in prison after a Madison County murder conviction in 1995. Fifteen years after the conviction, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision and ordered Goudy released in 2010. Two years later, Goudy and attorney Richard Dvorak filed suit against Cummings, seeking millions of dollars in damages.
The case is still in out of court litigation, with the deadline for evidence discovery approaching on May 16.
An agreed order of protection of evidence was approved by both sides on Friday, and Dvorak said that limits what he can discuss about the case. But he said there are several motions being processed that could make a major difference in the case.
One motion argues that Cummings and Napier are immune to prosecution because of their positions.
“The rulings could happen any day or they could take a few months. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were decided soon,” Dvorak said. “It won’t completely dispose of the case, but it could affect it.”
Cummings admitted he’s never been involved in such an unusual case. He said he’s been sued a number of times, but the Goudy case is peculiar because appeals don’t usually get all the way to the Seventh Circuit Court and get overturned. The next and final appeal would’ve been to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It’s unusual for everything to get upheld until that point. It’s a little different, but it’s part of the job,” Cummings said.
Cummings, who maintains Goudy is guilty and a danger to society, said he hasn’t heard much from the attorneys trying the case.
Goudy was convicted of the 1992 murder of Marvin McCloud and attempted murder of Damon Nunn. At the time, Cummings said it was a dangerous incursion of the Crips gang into Central Indiana. Goudy had also been convicted of four separate felonies in four other states under four different aliases.
The conviction was overturned by the Seventh Circuit on the grounds that Goudy deserved another trial. A follow up case wasn’t made against him.
“It’s important to remember that the court didn’t exonerate (Goudy),” said Cummings. “They simply said he was entitled to another trial. And it’s hard to bring another case against a person 20 years after the fact.”
In the suit, Dvorak alleged Cummings and investigator Steve Napier withheld evidence during the trial that would have resulted in Goudy being found not guilty. Dvorak argued Cummings used his office to try a case that no other reasonable prosecutor would have. Several alibi witnesses kept then-prosecutor William F. Lawler from pursuing the case.
Dvorak said Goudy, who has struggled financially since his release, was looking for damages consistent with other wrongful conviction suits. He cited a similar case in Chicago where a man was awarded $25 million after serving 16 years.
Find Jack Molitor on Facebook and @AggieJack4 on Twitter, or call 640-4883.