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COA finds inmate's post-conviction relief process 'confusing'

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a pro se inmate’s petition for permission to file a belated appeal after his post-conviction relief petition was denied, finding the chronological cases summary to contain inconsistencies. The judges also noted that this particular court has a “documented history” of not organizing and keeping abreast of its post-conviction relief files.

Anthony Taylor was convicted in 2007 of felonies unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and unlawful use of body armor, and he was sentenced to 15 years. In 2008, he filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. During this process, Taylor was moved from the Putnamville Correctional Facility to the Miami Correctional Facility. Taylor alerted the court of his move, but he did not receive further pleadings or orders for a while after his move. The post-conviction court denied his petition for relief on Feb. 4, 2010.

In April, Taylor filed a motion for re-issuance of order denying post-conviction relief and/or extension of time limitation in order to contest ruling, and at this point the allegations of the pleadings included in the record and the entries of the CCS diverge, noted the appellate court. The CCS, which acts as the court’s official record, had inaccuracies and contradictions. The post-conviction court, Marion Superior Judge Grant W. Hawkins’ court, denied Taylor’s motion on July 27, 2010.

In Anthony Taylor v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1008-PC-949, Taylor appealed pursuant to Post-Conviction Rule 2, but that rule is not available to him. Instead, the appellate court used its power to grant appropriate equitable relief under Taylor’s Trial Rule 72(E) motion. This rule is applicable when the CCS doesn’t contain evidence that a copy of the court’s order was sent to each party, wrote Chief Judge Margret Robb. The CCS doesn’t specify to what address the post-conviction court mailed the order denying Taylor’s petition and also showed that it still mailed an order to him at his previous address after he gave the court notice he was moved.

Taylor did everything he knew to do to bring the case to the appellate courts, and the record supports his assertion that he corresponded with the post-conviction court around the time of his move.

“And, as Taylor points out, this particular court has a documented history of failing to organize and keep abreast of its post-conviction relief files,” wrote the chief judge, pointing to the discipline imposed against Judge Hawkins in 2009 for not organizing post-conviction relief files and allowing delays in post-conviction relief cases. The judge had failed to ensure that defendant Harold Buntin’s post-conviction relief order was processed immediately and the parties were notified of the order.

“In sum, what transpired after Taylor filed his petition for post-conviction relief is confusing even to us; it is little wonder Taylor was confused about how to proceed,” she wrote.

They remanded to the post-conviction court to allow Taylor to file a notice of appeal from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.
 

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