Attorney criticized for poor brief

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed a defendant's appeal because of the numerous errors committed by her attorney in the brief.

In Ashley N. Galvan v. State of Indiana, No. 35A02-0706-CR-495, Judge Ezra Friedlander spent the majority of the opinion blasting Galvan's attorney, John Clifton of Fort Wayne, for failing to follow appellate rules in filing the brief.

Galvan, who took a plea agreement, was appealing her sentence of one and a half years for possession of cocaine with all but 90 days suspended to probation, and a concurrent sentence of one year with all but six days suspended for an OWI offense.

Because of numerous violations, the Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal. Judge Friedlander wrote in a footnote that even if Clifton had followed all the appellate rules, Galvan would have lost her appeal because she waived her right to do that in her plea agreement.

"Due to flagrant violations of the appellate rules, we dismiss Galvan's appeal," Judge Friedlander wrote. "We have warned Galvan's attorney, John G. Clifton, on at least three occasions regarding his inadequate appellate advocacy."

The court has warned Clifton in the past about his work, and according to a footnote in the opinion, he has continued to file briefs and appendices that violate the appellate rules. The most recent brief was filed Oct. 5, 2007.

Judge Friedlander listed the rules Clifton didn't follow in filing Galvan's appeal - Indiana Appellate Rules 46(A)(5), 46(A)(6), 46(A)(7), 46(A)(10), 46(A)(8)(a), and 50(c).

The appellate brief lacked an adequate statement of facts, statement of case, and summary of the argument section. Clifton had cut and pasted his previous statement of issue into the summary of the argument section, which simply read: "I. Inappropriateness of sentence."

"Even a non-lawyer would recognize this 'summary' as unacceptable," Judge Friedlander wrote.

Clifton's brief lacked an appropriate table of contents and his argument in support of Galvan's appeal was inadequate and "not supported by cogent reasoning."

Finally, Judge Friedlander directed Clifton to return any fee he may have received from Galvan to represent her and cautioned the attorney that any more violations may result in a referral to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission for investigation.

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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.