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Justices uphold probation revocation

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The Indiana Supreme Court disagreed with the Indiana Court of Appeals that the appellate court could review a defendant's appeal - either because it qualified as a rare and exceptional case of great public interest or under Post-Conviction Rule 2. The Supreme Court deemed the man's failure to timely file an appeal to the revocation of his probation as fatal to his claim.

In Cornelius Cooper v. State of Indiana, No. 49S02-0904-CR-135, Cornelius Cooper appealed the original order revoking his probation after his motion to reconsider was denied. Cooper was arrested and charged following a domestic dispute with his wife. No witnesses or evidence were introduced at his probation revocation hearing. Cooper believed that if the charges were dropped, he would be put back on probation, so he didn't appeal the revocation of his probation.

After the charges were dismissed, the court held a hearing on Cooper's motion to reconsider. The trial court denied it based on the evidence presented surrounding the incident with his wife.

Cooper appealed, claiming the trial court violated his due process by revoking his probation without allowing him to present witnesses, cross examine, or be heard; and the reconsideration hearing didn't cure the violation because the trial court impermissibly shifted the state's burden of proof to him.

It's abundantly clear that Cooper wasn't afforded even a minimal amount of due process, wrote Justice Robert Rucker for the majority. But Cooper chose not to appeal the decision to revoke his probation and instead waited until the charges were dropped to bring his claim.

By not filing a notice of appeal within 30 days, Cooper forfeited his right to challenge on appeal the order revoking his probation except as provided by PCR 2, wrote the justice.

The Court of Appeals was split on why it should address the merits of Cooper's claims - the majority believed it was of great public interest and Judge Nancy Vaidik thought Cooper's appeal should be considered under PCR 2.

The majority of justices disagreed with Judge Vaidik because PCR 2 is for petitioners when the failure to timely file the notice was not the petitioner's fault and the petitioner was diligent in trying to file notice.

The justices also didn't believe the case qualifies as rare or exceptional to require the court to invoke any discretion it has to entertain the merits of Cooper's probation revocation. The only proper issue before the high court is whether the trial court erred in denying his motion to reconsider.

There was ample evidence before the trial court that Cooper violated the terms of his probation, despite the charges being dropped, so Cooper wasn't prejudiced by the denial, Justice Rucker wrote.

Justice Theodore Boehm dissented without an opinion, in which he agreed with Judge Vaidik's opinion concurring in the result reached by the Court of Appeals.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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