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COA: 6th Amendment not violated in juvenile murder case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has found that a juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in waiving a 15-year-old boy’s murder trial to adult court and that Indiana’s juvenile waiver statute does not violate the Sixth Amendment.

On August 22, 2008, Martin Villalon chased down 15-year-old John Shoulders and fatally shot him because Villalon believed Shoulders was a Vice Lord gang member. Villalon, who was also 15 at the time, was waived to adult court in 2009 following a hearing in juvenile court. He was charged with murder, and a jury trial found him guilty as charged. On July 26, 2010, the trial court sentenced him to 60 years in prison.

In Martin A. Villalon, Jr. v. State of Indiana, No. 45A03-1010-CR-544, Villalon appealed his conviction and sentence. He raised several issues for review, including the claim that Indiana’s juvenile waiver statute is unconstitutional because it deprives juveniles of a Sixth Amendment right to have a jury determine facts supporting enhanced punishment for an offense.

Villalon argued that, because his trial in adult court greatly increased his punishment, he was entitled to have a jury determination of facts supporting the enhancement. In support of that argument, Villalon cited Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 490 (2000), which set forth the general rule that “any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury.”  However, more recently in Oregon v. Ice, 555 U.S. 160, 129 S.Ct. 711, 714 (2009), the United States Supreme Court declined to extend the Apprendi rule in the context of consecutive versus concurrent sentencing, holding that Apprendi did not apply to concurrent or consecutive sentencing in which the jury had traditionally played no role.

The appeals court held that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial does not apply to juvenile proceedings, and that Villalon had not proved that the Indiana juvenile statute violates that amendment. Villalon also failed to establish that his waiver to adult court lacked evidentiary support for the statutory prerequisites, and he failed to demonstrate ineffectiveness of trial counsel or reversible error in the admission of evidence or the conduct of the trial. In light of Villalon’s character and previous criminal history, the court held that his 60-year sentence is not inappropriate.

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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