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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. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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