ILNews

Court: S.C. decision not retroactive

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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In a case of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today that retroactivity doesn't apply to a year-old Indiana Supreme Court decision that held charging information must be amended within 30 days before the omnibus date.

As a result of the ruling, a Hendricks County man convicted of child molesting doesn't get relief.

At issue in Terry Leatherwood's appeal in Terry Leatherwood v. State of Indiana, No. 32A05-0710-PC-573, is whether the post-conviction court erred in refusing to apply the holding of Fajardo v. State, 859 N.E.2d 1201 (Ind. 2007) to his petition for post-conviction relief.

In late 2001, Leatherwood was charged with several counts of child molesting and the omnibus date was set for Jan. 18, 2002, with trial scheduled for June 10 of that year. The state in May 2002 attempted to amend five additional counts of child molesting, which were dismissed pursuant to a motion by Leatherwood. The state then amended three of the counts, petitioned the court to allow counts four through seven, and the trial court allowed counts four and seven to be filed and amended.

Leatherwood was convicted of all counts of child molesting and sentenced to an aggregate term of 120 years in prison.

Leatherwood appealed in 2003, and the Court of Appeals ruled that allowing the state to file the amended charges after the omnibus date did not prejudice Leatherwood.

But in January 2007, the Indiana Supreme Court issued its Fajardo decision and held that amendments of substance to charging information couldn't be made after 30 days prior to the omnibus date, regardless of a lack of prejudice. Leatherwood, who had filed a post-conviction petition in 2004, amended it to include his claim that the trial court erred in allowing the untimely amendment to his charging information. The post-conviction court denied his petition.

Judge Cale Bradford wrote today that Hendricks Circuit Judge Jeff Boles didn't err when determining Fajardo wasn't retroactive. Because the court's earlier ruling was based on established precedent at the time, it was not erroneous. However, if the court rules Fajardo should be applied retroactively on collateral review, Leatherwood would be entitled to relief, Judge Bradford wrote, relying on the state justices' stance following retroactivity rulings in Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989) and Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U.S. 302 (1989).

This court cannot apply the analysis found in Teague because the "new" rule - which was determined in Fajardo - is not constitutionally based, so it cannot be considered for retroactive application, Judge Bradford wrote. The rule announced in Fajardo was based solely on language in Indiana Code, not the state or federal constitution, he wrote.

Even looking outside of the Teague framework to determine whether Fajardo can be retroactively applied requires appellate judges to look to Teague for guidance, the judge determined.

"... The Teague framework stands for the proposition that the more compelling the constitutional interest, the more likely that a rule embodying it will be applied retroactively," he wrote. "With this in mind, and in light of the fact that even the most constitutional rules are not given retroactive effect, it follows that those not rooted in any constitutional provision, like the rule announced in Fajardo, should not be given retroactive effect either."

The Court of Appeals affirmed the post-conviction court's refusal to retroactively apply Fajardo to Leatherwood's convictions, resulting in the ultimate denial of any post-conviction relief.
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  1. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  2. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  3. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  4. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

  5. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

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