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COA finds petitioner failed to show trial counsel was ineffective

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In affirming a post-conviction court’s judgment, the Indiana Court of Appeals found a convicted child molester failed to carry his burden in claiming that his attorney was ineffective.

Ian McCullough was convicted of two counts of Class A felony child molesting and one court of Class C felony child molesting. After his convictions were affirmed on direct appeal, he sought post-conviction relief on the grounds that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel.

The post-conviction court denied McCullough’s petition.

On appeal in Ian McCullough vs. State of Indiana, 49A02-1106-PC-57, McCullough argues that his trial counsel was ineffective on numerous grounds including that counsel failed to object to evidence of prior uncharged misconduct and to the prosecutor’s references to that misconduct; failed to adequately cross-examine the state’s investigators; failed to make an offer of proof when the trial court excluded his expert’s testimony; failed to present expert evidence of child memory; failed to present certain evidence; and failed to request the jury instruction as mandated by the Protected Person Statute.

The COA noted that to be successful in the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, the petitioner must demonstrate both that his counsel’s performance was deficient and that the petitioner was prejudiced by the deficient performance.

In reviewing the claim, the COA concluded that McCullough failed to carry his burden to show that the evidence, as a whole, leads unerringly and unmistakably to a conclusion different from that of the post-conviction court.

Judge Elaine Brown dissented. She wrote, “While some of the errors by trial counsel may not individually be sufficient to prove ineffective representation, when viewed cumulatively counsel’s overall performance fell below the prevailing professional norms….”


 

 

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  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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