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COA affirms lower court in shoe-killing case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a post-conviction court’s determination that a man convicted of kicking another man to death cannot appeal his conviction.

In Matthew Conder v. State of Indiana, No.49A02-1012-PC-1404, Matthew Conder claimed that his conviction of Class A felony voluntary manslaughter should be reversed because his counsel was ineffective. But the Court of Appeals held that Conder’s attorney, Arnold Baratz, acted in accordance with Conder’s wishes by appealing Conder’s initial murder conviction, which resulted in Conder being charged with the lesser offense of Class A felony voluntary manslaughter.

In 2003, Conder kicked another man to death in a bar parking lot. He then took the victim’s wallet and attempted to conceal his guilt by bleaching his shoes. A bench trial in 2004 found Conder guilty of murder, robbery, and theft. Conder filed a motion requesting that the trial court enter a finding of guilty to voluntary manslaughter, rather than murder, arguing that his shoe constituted a “deadly weapon” for the purposes of the voluntary manslaughter statute.

The trial court conducted a hearing on the motion, ultimately entering the voluntary manslaughter conviction instead of murder and sentenced Conder to 40 years for that charge and three years for theft, with the sentences to be served consecutively. Conder then appealed the court’s decision.

In Conder v. State, No. 49A02-0412-CR-1070, slip op. at 2-4 (Ind. Ct. App. Aug. 17, 2005), the appeals court found that because Conder asked the court to find him guilty of manslaughter, he waived any possible objection to that conviction. However, the COA did find the sentence to be inappropriate and reduced it to an aggregate 33 years.

In his most recent appeal, Conder contended that his attorney performed deficiently because he should not have argued that a shoe is a deadly weapon. Conder claimed that if Baratz had not admitted to the shoe’s role as a deadly weapon, Conder could have been convicted of Class B felony manslaughter, rather than a Class A felony.

The appeals court wrote that Baratz had, in fact, argued for the B felony. At trial, when pressed to respond about whether a shoe constituted a deadly weapon, Baratz did not actually concede to that fact, but merely stated that “the Court could very well find that it fits that definition.” Had the trial court determined the shoe wasn’t a deadly weapon, then Conder’s murder conviction would’ve stood. Baratz’s effective representation of his client is what resulted in the lesser charge of manslaughter, the appeals court held.  

The COA affirmed the post-conviction court’s decision denying Conder’s petition, stating that he failed to prove his counsel had acted deficiently.






 

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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