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Man can't prove ineffective assistance from attorney

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed the denial of a man’s petition for post-conviction relief, in which he claimed his trial counsel was ineffective.

Leondre Woodson argued his attorney should have objected at trial to the admission of evidence related to the search of the rental car Woodson was a passenger in, which failed to preserve the issue for direct appeal. He argued that the continued police detention and investigation beyond writing a traffic ticket violated the Indiana Constitution, and that he didn’t have authority to consent to the search of the car.

Chinedu Onyeji rented a car, and he and Woodson were stopped by police for speeding in Bloomington. When the police officer saw a gun in the glove compartment of the car, he called for backup until he could check to determine if the handgun was stolen. Onyeji had a valid permit for the gun, and both men claimed the car was rented so they could drive to Gary to get a copy of Woodson’s birth certificate. Because Onyeji owned a car and the men appeared nervous, police thought they may be involved in narcotics activity. Onyeji declined to allow police to search the car, but Woodson gave them permission. A gun and drugs were found in the trunk, and Woodson was charged on various drug and weapons counts.

Woodson filed a motion to suppress the evidence in the trunk, which was denied. His attorney did not renew any objection to the evidence at trial. Woodson was convicted of three of the charges. On direct appeal, the possession of cocaine while in the possession of a firearm conviction was vacated, but the 20-year sentence was upheld.

Ruling on his PCR petition, which was denied by the post-conviction court, the Court of Appeals in Leondre Woodson v. State of Indiana, No. 53A01-1109-PC-466, found Woodson didn’t establish that he received ineffective assistance from his attorney. At all points of the traffic stop, police were justified in having at lease a reasonably high degree of concern or suspicion that some kind of criminal activity may be happening, wrote Judge Cale Bradford. The intrusion of the detention before the search was minimal and the need to maintain officer safety was implicated in this case.

The appellate judges also rejected Woodson’s claim that his consent to search the rental car was invalid because he didn’t have actual or apparent authority to give that consent.


 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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