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Judges affirm denial of post-conviction relief

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The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the denial of a man’s petition for post-conviction relief claiming ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. The man failed to introduce the original trial transcript at his post-conviction hearing and the post-conviction court didn’t take judicial notice of the record, as it’s now able to do under an amended Indiana Evidence Rule.

Larry Mitchell pro se challenged the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief following his convictions of felony murder, robbery, and related offenses. While he sought relief on claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel, he never offered the original transcript into evidence at the post-conviction hearing. Mitchell also didn’t ask the judge to take notice of the original transcript, which is allowed under Indiana Evidence Rule 201(b)(5), effective Jan. 1, 2010.

This amendment allows courts to judicially notice records beyond those in the cases before them, the Court of Appeals has ruled in recent cases involving the rule amendment. Before the amendment, a post-conviction court couldn’t take judicial notice of the original proceedings absent an exceptional situation.

“Accordingly, we understand amended Evidence Rule 201(b)(5) to allow a post-conviction court to judicially notice the transcript of the evidence from the petitioner’s underlying criminal proceedings to appraise counsel’s performance and evaluate claims of ineffective assistance,” wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik in Larry D. Mitchell v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1003-CR-340.  

But Mitchell never asked the court to take judicial notice of the record any time before the court’s Feb. 8, 2010, order that denied relief. In addition, the court didn’t judicially notice the record sua sponte, so the trial record was never before the post-conviction court for consideration. His claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were fact-sensitive allegations that required examination of the trial record, Judge Vaidik continued.

The judges also held the post-conviction court didn’t error by issuing its judgment denying relief before Mitchell’s deadline for submitting proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, and the court didn’t err in denying his motion to withdraw his petition of post-conviction relief without prejudice.

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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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