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Man can't prove ineffective lawyer assistance

May 9, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a man’s petition for post-conviction relief, finding neither his trial nor appellate counsel were ineffective in his case involving a voluntary manslaughter conviction.

Ashanti Clemons was questioned by police for the 2005 shooting of Prentice Webster. Clemons signed the advice of rights/waiver of rights form and claimed he understood the statements on the form. Clemons admitted to carrying a gun without a license and that he fired the gun. The state charged him with Class A felony voluntary manslaughter and Class C felony carrying a handgun without a license. At his first trial, he was convicted of the handgun charge, which he appealed, arguing the trial court shouldn’t have admitted his statements to the police. Clemons claimed police didn’t stop the interview when he requested counsel. The trial court held Clemons’ comments didn’t constitute an unequivocal request for an attorney.

On retrial, he was convicted of the manslaughter charge, which the COA previously affirmed. His appellate counsel did not seek transfer.

In Ashanti Clemons v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1108-PC-737, Clemons claims that Brian Lamar, his trial attorney, was ineffective because he conceded that Clemons’ request for counsel during the interrogation was equivocal and because he didn’t get school records before the first trial to prove Clemons has a low IQ.

The COA agreed with the decision by another panel of the court on Clemons’ direct appeal that his statements weren’t an unequivocal request for counsel, so he can’t prove that Lamar performed deficiently on this point. The appellate court also found that Lamar attempted to obtain the school records before the first trial but was unable to secure them through no fault of his own.

Clemons also didn’t prove that his appellate attorney, Julie Slaughter, was ineffective for not filing a petition to transfer from his voluntary manslaughter conviction. Clemons may still seek review by the Indiana Supreme Court by appealing the instant decision, so he has not been procedurally defaulted, the judges ruled.

 

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