Indiana attorney general candidate Curtis Hill shares how we keep people free by keeping them safe.
For the past 14 years, Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill has traveled from his home to his office; the route, on repeat. The Republican was elected as prosecutor in 2002, and again in 2006, 2010, and 2014.
But Hill, 55, is hopeful to fill the Attorney General’s seat in November, replacing current Attorney General Greg Zoeller. Hill will face off against Democrat Lorenzo Arredondo, a retired circuit court judge from Lake County.
Delegates at the GOP state convention selected Hill over three other candidates in early June.
Hill said he’s always had an investigative nature, especially in his role as prosecutor.
“There’s fact finding in that,” said Hill. “There’s investigation review, there’s determination of wrong-conduct and right-conduct. Then you expand that to an entire state. The idea is to create a tenor of safety for as many people as possible.”
Hill called the AG’s office a “gun that hasn’t been fired.” If elected, he wouldn’t surround himself with ‘yes’ people: “It’s important to have people who will be very straight about issues, so that if we have questions about a hard case, I want to know exactly what someone thinks.”
Hill took center-stage most recently at a news conference for a triple homicide investigation in Elkhart. At the podium, Hill warned the public the danger in interfering with a criminal investigation.
But perhaps Hill’s most well-known case he’s prosecuted is that of the ‘Elkhart 4.’ In 2012, five boys broke into a home. The homeowner shot and killed one of the boys.
All four were charged with murder; one pleaded guilty but the other three were convicted. Last fall, the state Supreme Court overturned those three convictions.
“I thought it was wrong,” said Hill in an interview. “The law was quite clear that if one engages in a felony and a particular felony of burglary; during the commission of that burglary, someone dies as a result, that we can charge a felony murder.”
Hill said he respected the Supreme Court’s authority and decision, but doesn’t agree with it. He said the decision to prosecute the way he did, sets a tone for criminals in Elkhart County.
“To the future criminals, that message was: if you go break into someone’s house and somebody dies a result, Elkhart County is going to hold you up for murder,” said Hill. “I think that’s an important standard to have.”
‘Very important for the party’
Should Hill be elected, he would be the first African American male to hold the Attorney General’s Office. Pamela Carter was the first African American woman to hold the office in 1993.
“Race has never been an issue that I used or considered as a limitation,” said Hill.
“Nobody came from Indianapolis and tapped me and said, ‘will you come and run and do this so we can look like this,’” said Hill. “I’m coming in from north central Indiana. It was my idea along with a few friends, who said hey, maybe we can get involved in this and change the direction where we’re going.”
Hill said he’s always had a “leaning that went to the right” but got more conservative as he became older.
Hill said he’s interested in having a Republican in the White House in 2017. Before Trump was named GOP nominee, here’s what he said: “I certainly can’t say that I was ever in a position in that primary, where I was a Donald Trump supporter. But if he is the Republican nominee, I will be supportive, and that’s not withstanding differences.”
Hill confirmed those sentiments on Wednesday, adding that he does support Donald Trump: "It's important to have a person who espouses appropriate values and verbiages of the Supreme Court."
At the national level, Hill said his concern is the Supreme Court.
“I think it’s imperative that we have justices on the Supreme Court that are conservative-minded in the sense that they look at the constitution and don’t legislate from the bench,” he said.
Hill also said Trump's decision to pick Governor Mike Pence was an "inspired" one; adding that it says a lot about Trump that he would pick someone with "different style and different approach" and shows "discipline to bring in people from a variety of backgrounds."
On a local level, Hill said fixing the “heroin problem starts at the marijuana problem.” He said more and more conservative-minded people are moving towards legalization; something he would not support.
“I already know about the dangers of marijuana, I know what it can do to kids,” said Hill.
Hill received a marketing degree from Indiana University in Bloomington. He also received his doctorate from the IU School of Law. Prior to his time as prosecutor, he served as a deputy prosecuting attorney and worked at his private practice.