TERRE HAUTE -- A Vigo County judge has named a special prosecutor in a case involving possible alteration of a public document.
Court records indicate Judge Sarah Mullican of Superior Court Division 3 signed an order Aug. 2 appointing Sullivan County Prosecutor Ann Smith Mischler. The order was filed Aug. 6.
The order indicates Mischler has 20 days to accept or reject the appointment. There was no record of Mischler’s decision available on file Monday. Phone and email messages were left Monday afternoon at Mischler’s Sullivan County office.
The special prosecutor will be asked to consider the possible alteration of a document involving a Terre Haute City Council primary race.
At issue is a candidate’s declaration of Tess D. Brooks-Stephens, who was seeking the Democratic nomination in the Third District on the city’s northeast side.
Brooks-Stephens’ name was placed below that of Cheryl Loudermilk, the other Democrat seeking the nomination for Third District council member.
Citing Indiana election law that says primary candidates shall appear by alphabetical order of surname, Brooks-Stephens asked the order be changed and her name be placed first.
At that time, County Clerk Brad Newman, the board’s secretary, initially agreed to the change but later reversed himself, saying correction fluid was used to modify a Brooks-Stephens’ document after it was filed.
Brooks-Stephens has said she did not alter the declaration after its Jan. 17 filing and pointed to a confirmation form filed the same day bearing Newman’s signature stamp. She said she did not have access to the declaration document after its filing.
Denied the change in ballot order by the Vigo County Election Board, Brooks-Stephens appealed to Vigo County Circuit Court, where Mullican presides.
After a two-day hearing, Mullican in mid-April found the Election Board’s decision arbitrary and contrary to law. The judge ordered primary ballots reprinted with Brooks-Stephens name placed before that of Loudermilk.
Loudermilk would go on to win the primary election.
Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt has said he asked Indiana State Police to look into the matter. He cited an email from an Indiana Secretary of State Election Division staff that said changing a declaration of candidacy could be a violation of the Indiana Public Records Law and potentially a Level 6 felony.
A state police spokesman recently said the agency has submitted its report.