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Appeals court upholds allowing represented defendant to argue pro se

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A criminal defendant represented by counsel who unsuccessfully argued on his own to withdraw a guilty plea to a Class A felony charge of dealing cocaine had a burden of proving manifest injustice, which he failed to do, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

The court affirmed a ruling by Tippecanoe Superior Judge Randy J. Williams denying a motion to withdraw the plea in Jerome Milian v. State of Indiana, 79A02-1302-CR-197. Milian was sentenced to 33 years in prison, with 26 years executed, and was found to be a habitual substance offender.

Williams allowed Milian to proceed with the pro se motion to withdraw his plea, in which Milian said he was misled into believing he was pleading to a Class B felony rather than a Class A felony. The judge held a hearing at which Milian argued his motion while his attorney sat in as stand-by counsel.

An appeals panel rejected Milian’s argument that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing him to represent himself in the hearing on his plea-withdrawal motion.  

“Milian received multiple advisements and admonishments from the trial court regarding his rights, and in particular, his right to representation by counsel. Milian has failed to meet his burden of establishing that the trial court abused its discretion. Consequently, we find no error here,” Judge James Kirsch wrote for the panel that also included Chief Judge Margaret Robb and Judge Patricia Riley.

The court record of Milian’s guilty plea hearing worked against his pro se motion.

“Milian stated for the record that he was happy with his legal representation and the services his attorney had provided. Milian affirmed that the plea agreement contained the terms he understood were to be included. The description of the offense that was read to Milian at the guilty plea hearing included the element that the crime occurred within 1000 feet of a housing complex, and the probable cause affidavit for that count, which also includes that allegation, was sworn to by Milian,” Kirsch wrote.  

“In sum, all three veins along which Milian sought to withdraw his guilty plea, were rebutted by verified evidence in the record, and Milian failed to show manifest injustice,” the panel held.

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  • Wasting time & money!
    Mediocre cases like this are the reason that serious and violent crime goes unsolved. What is the difference of dealing within 1ooo feet or 1000 feet one inch of a school, park or public housing? Answer: NO! What is the difference between a public housing complex and a private resident with young children. Answer: NONE!

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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