The Indiana Court of Appeals has reinstated the direct appeal of a LaPorte County man convicted of felony robbery and attempted robbery in 2004, finding that he should not receive a new trial for receiving ineffective assistance of appellate counsel the first time he tried to challenge his convictions and sentence.
In the case of Mario A. Allen v. State of Indiana, No., 46A04-1106-PC-353, the appellate court affirmed and reversed in part a ruling from LaPorte Superior Judge Kathleen B. Lang. Mario Allen appealed the trial court’s denial of his post-conviction relief petition requesting a new trial or release because he was denied appellate counsel assistance. The panel agreed with the state that the proper remedy is to permit Allen to proceed with the direct appeal he was denied.
Finding that the parties didn’t refer to any Indiana case addressing this issue, the three-judge appellate panel looked to other jurisdictions that have ruled on this matter. The 2nd and 7th Circuit courts and Northern District of Indiana have addressed the topic in the past two decades and held the proper remedy is to give the defendant the appeal he or she has been deprived. The appellate panel rejected Allen’s claims that both res judicata and the law of the case doctrine prevent the court from providing him with a direct appeal remedy.
The post-conviction court’s conclusion is affirmed and the appellate panel remanded the case with instructions that the trial court appoint Allen counsel to represent him on appeal.