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AG asks Supreme Court to review Gingerich conviction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversal of an adult murder conspiracy conviction of a then-12-year-old should be reviewed by the state Supreme Court, Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement late Thursday.

Paul Henry Gingerich, who will turn 15 next month, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years as an adult for his role as the younger co-defendant in the 2010 shooting death of Phillip Danner in Kosciusko County. On Dec. 11, the Court of Appeals threw out the plea and sent the case back to the trial court.

The appeals panel held in Paul Henry Gingerich v. State of Indiana, 43A05-1101-CR-27, that the court abused its discretion in denying Gingerich a continuance of a waiver hearing for which his defenders had five days to prepare.

Zoeller’s statement said the petition to transfer “means that the state’s highest court will ultimately decide whether to uphold Gingerich’s guilty plea and sentence.”

There was no immediate indication whether the Indiana Supreme Court would grant transfer.

“Balancing the interests of justice when an offender is so young is extremely difficult. In working with prosecutors, my office is concerned about not setting a precedent that would allow violent offenders to back out of their plea agreements after pleading guilty,” Zoeller said in a statement.

“Mindful of the deceased victim in this tragic case, we respectfully request the Indiana Supreme Court consider this appeal and make the final determination,” Zoeller said.

In the petition to transfer, Zoeller argues “The Court of Appeals’ decision creates uncertainty about who may bring a direct appeal following a guilty plea, undermines the finality of pleas, and creates a disincentive to enter plea agreements, especially where juveniles are involved.”

Gingerich defense attorney Monica Foster argued to the Court of Appeals his case was replete with error beyond the denial of continuances. She said the trial court was misled on juvenile placement options for Gingerich and never had evidence of Gingerich’s incompetence to stand trial made available before the waiver hearing. She said his parents likely signed a plea in a legal landscape where they saw no due process.

Foster said she was surprised the AG’s office appealed.

“I really believe the Court of Appeals opinion was unquestionably correct and that no reasonable jurist could disagree with it,” Foster said. She said the appellate court cited longstanding precedent to reverse the trial court and accused the AG’s office of “trying to make this case into something it’s not.”

Read more about the Gingerich case in Indiana Lawyer.
 

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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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