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7th Circuit judge grants prisoner’s request for certificate of appealability

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An Indiana prisoner’s request for a certificate of appealability has been granted by a 7th Circuit judge who found the man’s application set forth a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.

Prisoner Joshua Resendez sought habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, but his petition and subsequent request for a certificate of appealability were denied by Judge Sarah Evans Barker. In a five-page order issued from Judge Kenneth Ripple’s chambers, the federal appellate judge said he granted Resendez’s application because his petition presents a question concerning a defendant’s constitutional right to counsel under Indiana Code 35-38-1-15 that has not yet been settled by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The record is sparse in Resendez’s case, Joshua Resendez v. Wendy Knight, No. 11-1121. While in prison on robbery and forgery convictions, he filed a belated motion to correct erroneous sentence. The trial court denied the motion, so Resendez asked for an appointed attorney to help him appeal. That request was also denied, and the Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed his appeal with prejudice.

Resendez then asked for federal habeas corpus relief, claiming the state courts denied him counsel in violation of the federal constitution. The District Court denied his request, believing he was asserting a right to counsel in a state post-conviction proceeding.

Judge Ripple pointed out that a certificate of appealability may be issued only if the applicant has made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right. The judge then discussed whether a motion brought under I.C. 35-38-1-15 qualifies as a direct or collateral proceeding.

“Whether the procedure is characterized correctly as direct or collateral presents an antecedent non-constitutional question. A certificate of appealability still can be granted on this question, however, because Mr. Resendez’s petition raises a substantial constitutional issue, namely the right to counsel,” he wrote. “Because this court has not previously determined how a motion brought under section 35-38-1-15 should be characterized, and because, given the factors this court considers, reasonable jurists could differ on whether this proceeding should be considered direct or collateral, Mr. Resendez’s application sets forth a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right. I express no view on the correct resolution of the question presented.”

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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