Appellate court reverses grant of post-conviction relief

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The Indiana Court of Appeals found that the post-conviction court erred when it concluded that a defendant had not knowingly waived his right to counsel.

In State of Indiana v. Christopher Vickers, No. 88A05-1106-PC-317, 19-year-old Christopher Vickers was arrested for various alcohol offenses and appeared two days later at an initial hearing along with a group of other defendants. At this hearing, the trial court advised the defendants of their rights, including the right to have an attorney, the risk of proceeding without one, and the availability of appointed counsel. Vickers’ family indicated that they would try to find an attorney, to which the trial court requested they let the judge know quickly so counsel could be appointed if needed.

Vickers eventually signed a plea agreement to Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing endangerment; he did not have an attorney. The form was not signed by the trial court and didn’t have the name of the prosecutor and date completed on it. Nearly seven years later, Vickers filed his petition for post-conviction relief claiming that he had not knowingly or voluntarily waived his right to counsel. The post-conviction court granted his request, in part because there wasn’t a record of Vickers’ waiver of his right to counsel.

Based on Supreme Court precedent, the lack of a record showing a waiver of right to counsel does not necessarily mean the trial court didn’t make such a determination that the waiver was valid, so the extent that the post-conviction court relied on the lack of record to grant relief was an error, wrote Judge Patricia Riley.

Looking at other evidence in the record, the appellate court couldn’t find that Vickers met his burden of proof establishing that he didn’t waive his right to counsel or did not unequivocally assert his right to proceed without an attorney.



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  1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

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  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise