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Defender’s trial strategy trumps inmate’s pro se early-trial request

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A prison inmate who asked for a public defender then said at an initial hearing he wanted to “file for fast and speedy trial too” lost his appeal that argued the court erred by not ruling on his request and his trial counsel was ineffective.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a Class C felony forgery conviction in Randy E. Black v. State of Indiana, 01A04-1310-CR-526. Black was convicted after a bench trial in Adams Superior Court.

Black, who was serving a sentence in the Department of Correction on unrelated charges, was appointed a public defender during an initial hearing, then made a verbal request for an early trial. But because a defender had been appointed, that decision was a matter of strategy allocated to defense counsel, Judge Michael Barnes wrote for the panel.

The record also does not establish that public defender Albert Anzini III’s assistance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.

"Black provides no evidence that the decision not to pursue an early trial wasn’t a matter of strategy," Barnes wrote. "In fact, the record shows, that in March 2013, the State extended a plea offer, and Anzini hoped to have the matter resolved.

"The record also shows that Black’s incarceration in the DOC impacted Anzini’s ability to communicate with Black and to prepare a defense. At the April 23, 2013 hearing, Anzini and the State jointly moved for a continuance of the May trial date, and Anzini explained that he had 'not really had an opportunity to talk to Mr. Black in any meaningful fashion ... about his potential defenses.”





 

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