7th Circuit affirms denial of habeas corpus petition

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A man who stabbed his wife repeatedly, leaving her with a collapsed lung and ruptured spleen, was unable to prove that he received ineffective counsel at trial, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held.

In Dale J. Atkins v. Michael Zenk, No. 11-1891, a jury convicted Dale Atkins of attempted murder, criminal confinement, domestic battery and invasion of privacy and sentenced him to 51 years in prison. After filing an unsuccessful petition for post-conviction relief, he filed a habeas corpus petition. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, denied that petition, but granted a certificate of appealability.

At trial, Atkins claimed he was not present in his wife’s home at the time she was stabbed. But on the eve of trial, he admitted to his lawyer, Todd Ess, that he had stabbed his wife, but that it was an accident and he had not intended to kill her. In the wake of this revelation, Ess asked Atkins if he wanted to proceed using an accident defense or a misidentification defense, but Atkins was uncooperative and said he did not wish to testify or talk about his relationship at trial.

Atkins claimed that insufficient evidence exists to support his conviction for attempted murder, but in the 7th Circuit opinion, the court wrote: “Atkins’ entire argument boils down to the fact that Yvonne’s stab wounds were not particularly deep. Therefore, a jury could have reasoned that Atkins lacked the requisite intent to kill.” But the court said that argument is flawed, particularly because “ten stab wounds – one that was less than one inch from her heart and another that cut her spleen – are damning evidence supporting an intent to kill.”

The 7th Circuit therefore affirmed the District Court in denying Atkins’ habeas corpus petition.



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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues