ILNews

7th Circuit vacates habeas petition, orders further proceedings

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Although a District Court’s grant of the habeas petition of a man claiming he didn’t have an impartial jury was reversed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the case was sent back to the lower court for the state to show that the jury was not prejudiced.

Virgil Hall III was convicted by a jury in state court in 2001 of killing his stepson. After Hall was convicted, he found out that one of the juror’s sons was an inmate with him. The juror’s son told his father that he believed Hall was innocent, but the juror later found out that his son and other inmates changed their mind and thought Hall was guilty. That juror conveyed this information to several jurors. Hall was convicted of murder.

The state court rejected Hall’s motion to correct error, he lost on direct appeal, and then filed his petition for habeas in the Northern District of Indiana. Hall argued that the state should have to prove that the extraneous information that reached the jury wasn’t prejudicial and that the Indiana courts contravened established federal law handed down by the Supreme Court, citing Remmer v. United States, 347 U.S. 227 (1954). The District Court granted the petition.

In Virgil Hall III v. Michael Zenk, superintendent, 11-3911, handed down Wednesday, the judges determined that “federal constitutional law maintains a presumption of prejudice in at least some intrusion cases. The standard applied by the Court of Appeals of Indiana requires that a defendant prove that he was probably harmed by an extraneous communication had with a juror, which leaves no room for the potential for a presumption, in contravention of Remmer and (United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. 725 (1993)),” Judge Joel Flaum wrote.

“Even under a narrow reading of Remmer that permits a presumption of prejudice only where there is a likelihood of prejudice … a presumption was due to Hall in his postverdict hearing, and the state court decision to the contrary was an abuse of discretion,” Flaum continued. “Thus, we are confident that despite some ambiguity regarding when the Remmer presumption should apply, all reasonable interpretations of Remmer and its progeny would lead to a presumption of prejudice in favor of Hall in his postverdict hearing. Thus, the trial court that oversaw Hall’s conviction acted contrary to clearly established federal law under the (Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.)”

The judges remanded for a hearing to determine whether Hall was prejudiced by the extraneous information that reached the jury.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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