In the state of Indiana the name, “Larry Bird” is one that causes folks to perk up their ears and garner utmost attention. Most often that attention within the state is positive, with an admiration for “Larry Legend’s” exploits on the basketball court. For a state known for its love affair with basketball, Bird is a hometown hero who will live on forever.
However, when those within a legend’s inner circle are faced with accusations of criminal conduct, a circle the wagons mentality may often be activated causing Larry and those around him to immediately be pro active in controlling media spin that could otherwise tarnish the Bird mystique.
This past week Larry’s adopted son Conner, a student at Indiana University in Bloomington, was arrested for preliminary charges related to Possession of Marijuana, Battery With a Deadly Weapon, Intimidation and Battery, stemming from Bird’s alleged attempt to use a motor vehicle to run down a girlfriend. A thrown cell phone count has been thrown in for good measure.
As is often typically the case an investigation related to whether alcohol and operating while Intoxicated was a contributing cause of Bird’s conduct has been investigated. Due to the time frame within which the car was eventually located and the incident in question, I would suspect that a dui case will not be in the cards against the younger Bird.
From a case filing point of view the case raises questions from my perspective as a defense attorney as to whether charges such as these would have been “under investigation” in perpetuity had the alleged event occured on the campus of Indiana State University in Terre Haute Indiana. One must remember that Larry Legend lead the ISU Sycamores to the final four in 1979 and is still worshipped fo declaring, “this one’s for Terre Haute” on a national stage. This allegiance has earned Larry and his offspring a wealth of goodwill that I would expect to permeate through the Vigo County Prosecutor’s Office, were jurisdiction over the case to have occured within the Terre Haute county limits.
Rightly or wrongly it is the job and obligation of a defense lawyer to utilize all potential advantages to a client’s legal benefit. Do not think for a moment that the Bird name will not somehow influence the manner in which a prosecution such as this will be conducted. While in many instances the Bird name can help shield one from undue punishment, in others it can prove a curse against one subject to a prosecutor’s zeal to make headlines.
As case events develop it will be curious to observe the manner in which such a case will be disposed of. Having made the rounds within the news media, the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office will not have the option of allowing the case to languish into the future so as to potentially eliminate the prospect of filing charges altogether.
Now that criminal charges have been filed, let us be hopeful that Conner Bird is afforded the same due process rights as any other young man who may have made an isolated mistake in his life. Time will tell whether Conner’s notoriety will either aid in his case resolution or prove to become a burden he will have to bear in his attempt to favorably resolve pending charges.
Lawyer Gregg J. Stark has over three decades of experience in defending high profile criminal prosecutions throughout the State of Indiana.