ILNews

Appellate court split on ordering new trial for mom

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ordered a woman convicted of killing her son by setting fire to their home in 1996 receive a new trial, although one judge believed she did not meet her burden to prevail on appeal from the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief.

Chief Judge Margret Robb and Edward Najam reversed the denial of Kristine Bunch’s petition for post-conviction relief. Bunch was sentenced to 60 years for the murder of her son, Anthony. The state claimed she set the fire in their mobile home and some evidence showed accelerating material present in samples taken from the home. In 2006, she began pursuing post-conviction relief, claiming, among other things, newly discovered evidence in the form of advances in the field of fire science and a violation of due process by the state in failing to disclose certain evidence. The post-conviction court denied the petition in 2010.

In Kristine Bunch v. State of Indiana, No. 16A05-1007-PC-439, the majority determined the post-conviction court erred in determining she wasn’t entitled to a new trial on the basis of the fire victim toxicology analysis evidence because that evidence meets each of the nine requirements to be newly discovered evidence. They also found the post-conviction court clearly erred in concluding there was no Brady violation in the state’s failure to disclose material exculpatory or impeaching evidence to Bunch prior to trial. Based on these two issues, she is entitled to a new trial, wrote Robb.

Judge Terry Crone wrote a 14-page dissent in which he did not believe Bunch met her burden to prevail on her appeal of the denial of post-conviction relief. She didn’t show that the evidence as a whole leads unerringly and unmistakably to a conclusion opposite of what the post-conviction court reached.

 

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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