Hot-Button Issues: Big Court Cases & Political Races

From poll positions to hot dockets, the high-profile political and legal bouts worth watching in 2014.

Editor’s Note: From gay marriage to Glenda Ritz, Obamacare to Sunday booze, we’re presenting 10 topics that Hoosiers will be fired up about this year—and what you need to know before jumping into heated cocktail-party discussions. See the full list here.

U.S. House of Representatives, 5th District
Republican Primary, May 6

Incumbent Susan Brooks angered fiscal conservatives by voting to break the federal budget impasse last fall. Dashing young Carmel businessman David Stockdale is courting Tea Party groups—can he harness their ire and unseat her?


Secretary of State
General Election, Nov. 4

After her appointment by former Governor  Mitch Daniels, Republican Connie Lawson has quietly held down the office noisily vacated  by Charlie White. She has a capable challenger in Marion County Clerk Beth White. Dems face an uphill battle in statewide contests, but White is no doubt hoping the stain of Lawson’s convicted predecessor lingers.

Feb. 24

The Indy Land Bank corruption scandal—the result of a probe conducted by the office of tough-talking federal prosecutor Joe Hogsett—has a trial scheduled in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis against former city employee (and mayoral assistant) Reggie Walton and alleged accomplices David Johnson, John Hawkins, Randall Sargent, and Aaron Reed.

March 6

Beech Grove city councilman David Mobley goes to trial in Marion Superior Court on the charge of soliciting a prostitute along East Washington Street last March.



Whether busting up drug rings, outing FBI leaker Donald Sachtleben, or convicting former Marion County Deputy Prosecutor David Wyser, no one made more big cases in 2013 than U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett—and his savvy press people made sure we all heard about the exploits. The crime-fighter announced that his white whale, former prosecutor Carl Brizzi, investigated for corruption, is off the hook (for now). But Hogsett—who just ended speculation that he’ll leave his current post before 2016 to run for office—still has plenty of fish to fry this year, including: the Indy Land Bank corruption trial; a faceoff with former prosecutor Scott Newman, who’s defending ex-Lilly scientists charged with stealing trade secrets; and an action against defendants from E-Biofuels accused of perpetrating a $100 million–plus fraud.


Former Secretary of State Charlie White awaited a judge’s decision on his claim that defender Carl Brizzi did a poor job in his 2012 voter-fraud trial—and, in late December, he got it. The ruling passed down has White serving a full sentence, and his new lawyer, Andrea Ciobanu, has filed an appeal on his behalf.

Mayor of Fishers
Republican Primary, May 6

Last year, the ring of GOP candidates hoping to be the fast-growing suburb’s first-ever mayor was already crowded with the hats of town manager Scott Fadness, town councilor Renee Cox, and former council president Walter Kelly. And speculation over potential new entrants ran rampant. This race could set the tone of Fishers politics for years to come.

Marion County Prosecutor
General Election, Nov. 4

Republicans have shown this is a countywide office they can win (read: Scott Newman, Carl Brizzi), but low-profile Democratic incumbent Terry Curry has navigated Indy’s crime and police-funding debates mostly unscathed, while his GOP opponent, attorney Duane Merchant, has run a stealth campaign.

Marion County Clerk
Democratic Primary, May 6  /  General Election, Nov. 4

The competing issues of voter security and ballot access fall on this office, which is wide open now that Beth White is moving on. Franklin Township Board secretary Christine Bischoff is running as a Republican, and county director of elections Myla Eldridge and coroner Frank Lloyd have announced on the Democratic side.

Marion County Sheriff
Democratic Primary, May 6  /  General Election, Nov. 4

Many voters would be hard-pressed even to name the state’s top elected lawman (it’s John Layton, btw). But grumblings about his budget, notably from Democrat and IMPD vet Mark Brown, are getting louder. Retired ATF agent Emmitt Carney is running on the GOP ticket. This race could revive the heated police-merger debate.

Indiana Treasurer
Republican State Convention, June 6–7 / General Election, Nov. 4

With the term of Richard “God’s Will” Mourdock set to expire, it’s anyone’s race. Republicans Wayne Seybold, Don Bates, and Kelly Mitchell have already entered, and the state GOP will choose its candidate at the convention. No Dems yet, but upset statewide wins by Joe Donnelly and Glenda Ritz in 2012 might rose-tint the party’s outlook.

June 16

The trials of Monserrate Shirley, Mark Leonard, and Robert Leonard—charged with setting off the 2012 blast that killed two Richmond Hill residents and leveled much of the neighborhood—are set to commence in Marion Superior Court.


A version of this article appeared in the January 2014 issue.