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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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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