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. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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