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. 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