ILNews

COA: Judge should have recused himself

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share


The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with a defendant that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel because his attorney should have filed a motion for change of judge. The sentencing judge had worked as a prosecutor in the early stages of the defendant’s case 10 years earlier.

In Paul L. Patterson v. State of Indiana, No. 09A02-0909-CR-849, Paul Patterson was arrested for selling cocaine in 1997 and charged with Class B felony dealing in cocaine. Judge Leo Burns, then a Cass County deputy prosecutor, signed the information charging Patterson and participated in the probable cause hearing. He didn’t participate any more in Patterson’s case. Just after a different prosecutor took over the case, Jay Hirschauer was appointed to represent Patterson. Patterson entered a guilty plea, but fled before sentencing. He was arrested in 2009 in Illinois.

When he appeared in Indiana, Judge Burns had become the judge of Cass Circuit Court. The state brought it to the judge’s attention that he had worked on the case years earlier, but he didn’t think it required his recusal. Without any objection from Patterson, the judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Even though Hirschauer didn’t start on Patterson’s case until after Judge Burns stopped working on it, the judge’s name appeared numerous times in the record, wrote Judge Margret Robb. And since Judge Burns hadn’t recused himself for his previous involvement in the case, as is required by Judicial Conduct Canon 2.11, Hirschauer should have filed the motion for a change of judge. Judge Burns would have then been obligated to remove himself from the case. Patterson was prejudiced because he was denied his right to have an impartial judge preside over his case.

The appellate court remanded to have the case assigned to a different judge. That judge may reject Patterson’s plea agreement and set the case for trial if he or she deems it appropriate.
 
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  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.

ADVERTISEMENT