ILNews

Attorney criticized for poor brief

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed a defendant's appeal because of the numerous errors committed by her attorney in the brief.

In Ashley N. Galvan v. State of Indiana, No. 35A02-0706-CR-495, Judge Ezra Friedlander spent the majority of the opinion blasting Galvan's attorney, John Clifton of Fort Wayne, for failing to follow appellate rules in filing the brief.

Galvan, who took a plea agreement, was appealing her sentence of one and a half years for possession of cocaine with all but 90 days suspended to probation, and a concurrent sentence of one year with all but six days suspended for an OWI offense.

Because of numerous violations, the Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal. Judge Friedlander wrote in a footnote that even if Clifton had followed all the appellate rules, Galvan would have lost her appeal because she waived her right to do that in her plea agreement.

"Due to flagrant violations of the appellate rules, we dismiss Galvan's appeal," Judge Friedlander wrote. "We have warned Galvan's attorney, John G. Clifton, on at least three occasions regarding his inadequate appellate advocacy."

The court has warned Clifton in the past about his work, and according to a footnote in the opinion, he has continued to file briefs and appendices that violate the appellate rules. The most recent brief was filed Oct. 5, 2007.

Judge Friedlander listed the rules Clifton didn't follow in filing Galvan's appeal - Indiana Appellate Rules 46(A)(5), 46(A)(6), 46(A)(7), 46(A)(10), 46(A)(8)(a), and 50(c).

The appellate brief lacked an adequate statement of facts, statement of case, and summary of the argument section. Clifton had cut and pasted his previous statement of issue into the summary of the argument section, which simply read: "I. Inappropriateness of sentence."

"Even a non-lawyer would recognize this 'summary' as unacceptable," Judge Friedlander wrote.

Clifton's brief lacked an appropriate table of contents and his argument in support of Galvan's appeal was inadequate and "not supported by cogent reasoning."

Finally, Judge Friedlander directed Clifton to return any fee he may have received from Galvan to represent her and cautioned the attorney that any more violations may result in a referral to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission for investigation.
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