Condemned man's appeals coming to end

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals today rejected one of the last appeals attempts by a man set to die Friday for the execution-style shooting death of a Muncie police officer in 1990.

A five-page unanimous decision by the three-judge panel in the federal appeals court in Chicago rejected Michael Allen Lambert's claims for relief in Lambert v. Edwin G. Buss, Nos. 03-1015 and 05-2610. The ruling upholds the judgment by U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney in Indianapolis.

In its opinion, the panel wrote per curiam that only the Supreme Court of the United States has the power to make a decision on Lambert's behalf, as previous attempts and rulings have nearly exhausted his relief possibilities.

While Lambert's requests are to file successive petitions for habeas relief under the federal Constitution, they are "actually masquerading as motions to recall mandates. While we certainly do not fault Mr. Lambert for leaving no stone unturned in his effort to stave off his execution, the relief he seeks is quite extraordinary."

The court can recall mandates but will only do so in extraordinary circumstances, it wrote. This case doesn't present those circumstances, according to the court.

"Any further relief must come from the (U.S.) Supreme Court," Circuit Judge Kenneth Ripple wrote in his concurrence.

Lambert's attorneys have filed a petition with SCOTUS to block the execution, but the high court hasn't ruled on that. In the petition, one issue cited is how at least two Indiana Supreme Court justices have disagreed on the imposition of death sentences, even during Lambert's appeals calling it "constitutionally infirm under both State and Federal constitutions."

When the Indiana Supreme Court denied post-conviction relief in May, Justices Theodore Boehm and Robert D. Rucker both dissented. Justice Boehm cited his dissent from Lambert's previous appeal in 2005 that said, "Without an error-free penalty phase, the death sentence could not stand under the current Indiana statute, and a new penalty phase was required."

Aside from court appeals, Gov. Mitch Daniels also has the authority to halt the execution despite a recommendation from the state parole board last week to deny clemency.

If Lambert is executed Friday as scheduled, he will be the second person put to death by lethal injection this year. David Leon Woods was executed in May for the 1984 killing of a 77-year-old neighbor in Fort Wayne. The January execution of Norman Timberlake was temporarily halted while the U.S. Supreme Court reviews a similar case. A ruling on that is expected later this year.

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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues