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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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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