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Court rules on appellate counsel issue in child molesting case

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A decade-old old case from the Indiana Court of Appeals doesn’t apply to child molesting cases, the state’s second highest appellate court has ruled.

In an eight-page decision today in Fred Giddings v. State of Indiana, No. 40A01-0909-PC-455, the intermediate appellate panel explored a post-conviction petition on a Jennings County child molesting case, in which the appellate court on direct appeal in 2001 affirmed five convictions resulting in a 90-year sentence. Following that, Giddings alleged that he had received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel because that attorney hadn’t challenged one of the felony child molesting convictions on the grounds of a potentially non-unanimous verdict.

Despite the fact that the trial counsel hadn’t raised an objection to that issue and the appellate counsel couldn’t be held at fault for what the other lawyer didn’t do, the Court of Appeals found the direct appeal counsel wasn’t ineffective. Fred Giddings had argued that his appellate lawyer wasn’t effective based on Castillo v. State, 734 N. E.2d 299 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), which relied on a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1999 as sole authority. That federal ruling in Richardson v. United States, 526 U.S. 813, 119 S.Ct. 1707, 143 L.Ed.2d 985 (1999), held that state courts have sometimes permitted jury disagreement in cases involving sexual crimes against a minor, and that those crimes can involve “special difficulties of proving individual underlying criminal acts.”

“These ‘special difficulties’ do not disappear at the time the jury determines what the State has proven; indeed the Richardson court recognized the special difficulties of proving individual criminal acts,” Senior Judge Betty Barteau wrote for the unanimous panel, which included a concurrence in result from Judge Michael Barnes. “We hold that Castillo is not applicable in child molest cases, and appellate counsel was not ineffective for not raising the case and the issue of unanimous verdicts.”
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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