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Attorneys' performances don't require post-conviction relief

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A LaPorte County man with a lengthy criminal history couldn’t convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that he is entitled to post-conviction relief due to ineffective assistance from his trial and appellate attorneys.

In Charles A. Walker v. State of Indiana, 46A04-1210-PC-519, Charles Walker appealed the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He had been convicted of robbery and found to be a habitual offender. He was sentenced to 40 years.

Walker claimed his trial attorney was ineffective by not challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to support the habitual offender finding via a motion for directed verdict. He argued the evidence didn’t establish his identity and the sequence of the predicate offenses. The COA found the attorney was not ineffective with respect to Walker’s identity, as a police officer and probation officer involved in Walker’s 1980 and 1989 convictions, used to support the habitual offender finding, affirmed Walker’s identity.

The judges did find that the trial counsel’s performance was deficient by failing to request a directed verdict after the state didn’t present documentary evidence establishing the proper sequencing of the predicate offenses. But even if his attorney had requested a directed verdict, the state “simply could have requested that the trial court exercise its discretion and grant permission to reopen the case to introduce the 1989 charging information,” Judge Terry Crone wrote. Thus, it’s not reasonably probable that Walker would have received a different outcome on the habitual offender count.

The appellate court also found that the trial attorney was not ineffective in failing to object to the jury instructions regarding the habitual offender finding or to the habitual offender verdict form.

Regarding his appellate counsel, Walker argued that attorney was ineffective by not raising the same habitual offender issues that formed the basis of claims against his trial counsel. Walker’s appellate attorney raised two issues on direct appeal: the sufficiency of evidence supporting the robbery conviction and the appropriateness of the sentence. The appellate court couldn’t determine why the appellate attorney didn’t raise the issue concerning the habitual offender designation because the attorney was deceased at the time of the post-conviction hearing.

The unraised issue of sufficiency of evidence supporting the habitual offender finding was not clearly stronger than the issues raised by the appellate attorney, Crone wrote, pointing to the record on direct appeal. The record also shows that the attorney did request the COA vacate the habitual offender filing in conjunction with his appropriateness of sentence claim.
 

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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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