Defendant received ineffective trial counsel assistance in murder case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a Delaware County man’s post-conviction relief petition finding his trial attorney was ineffective in not ensuring the jury was properly instructed on the elements of murder, voluntary manslaughter and the state’s burden of proof regarding sudden heat.

James Roberson and Antron Young were at a Muncie nightclub in 2006 when Young exchanged angry words with Roberson and bumped and pushed him. The two had to be separated outside the club from fighting after the club closed at 3 a.m. When they both ended up at the same convenience store later that morning, Young punched Robinson in the face, leading Roberson to pull a gun and shoot at Young. Two bullets initially struck him and after he fell to the ground, Roberson fired more shots, telling him to “die.” Young died from the wounds.

Roberson was charged with murder, but claimed self defense. The trial court also gave instructions on voluntary manslaughter as a lesser included offense of murder, but not at the request of Roberson’s attorney. His attorney didn’t object to any of the instructions and Roberson was convicted as charged. His conviction was upheld on direct appeal, leading Roberson to file this petition for post-conviction relief.

In James Roberson v. State of Indiana, 18A02-1204-PC-306, Roberson claimed he received ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel with respect to not objecting to the content of the trial court’s instructions regarding voluntary manslaughter and not challenging them on direct appeal as fundamentally erroneous. His PCR petition was denied.

The appellate judges reversed, finding Roberson’s trial attorney was ineffective.

“The jury here was not properly instructed. In addition to the legally erroneous language of instruction 13, instruction 4, defining the elements of murder, makes no mention of the State’s burden to disprove the existence of sudden heat,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote.

“It was a clearly incorrect statement of the law to inform the jury that it could only consider convicting Roberson of voluntary manslaughter instead of murder if it first found him not guilty of murder, given that the jury instruction for murder did not inform the jury that the State had to disprove the existence of sudden heat.”

The case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.



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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.