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7th Circuit grants writ of habeas corpus

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a habeas corpus petition, finding the Indiana Court of Appeals unreasonably applied federal law when it determined prior statements of identification by witnesses the government suppressed didn’t create a reasonable probability of a different result at trial.

Walter Lee Goudy appealed the denial of his habeas corpus petition by the District Court, arguing he was denied a fair trial because of the government’s failure to disclose three eyewitness statements that implicated one of its main witnesses and the failure of Goudy’s counsel to introduce his brother’s tape-recorded confession.

Goudy was convicted of killing Marvin McCloud while McCloud sat in his car, and wounding the front-seat passenger. Eyewitnesses at Goudy’s trial, including the state’s primary witness, Kaidi Harvell, gave different descriptions of the man they believed was Goudy. Eyewitnesses also gave different accounts regarding which side of the car the suspect was sitting on.

The government didn’t share at trial three police reports with statements by the witnesses that differ from the trial accounts, including that many of the witnesses picked Harvell out of a photo lineup as the shooter on the driver’s side. The jury also didn’t hear the tape-recorded confession by Romeo Lee, Goudy’s brother, who was there at the time of the shooting. He said he and Goudy were often confused for each other because of their similar appearances.

Goudy appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals, Supreme Court, and for post-conviction relief. All affirmed his convictions.

In Walter Lee Goudy v. James Basinger, superintendent, No. 08-3679, the Circuit judges found the Indiana Court of Appeals identified the correct legal principle -- Goudy had to demonstrate a reasonable probability that the new evidence would lead to a different result. But the appellate court decision required he prove the new evidence “would have” established his innocence, wrote Judge William Bauer.

“In short, Goudy has shown that the state court’s decision on his Brady claim involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law,” wrote the judge. “Rather than applying a ‘reasonable probability’ standard for materiality of suppressed evidence as required by United States v. Bagley, the court unreasonably required Goudy to show that the suppressed evidence would establish his innocence. The court did not recognize Bagley’s requirement that the effect of suppressed evidence be assessed cumulatively.”

Because the Circuit Court granted Goudy’s petition on the police report issue, the judges didn’t decide whether Goudy received ineffective assistance of counsel. The state has 120 days to retry Goudy or release him.

 

 

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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