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COA: post-conviction proceedings not equivalent to civil proceedings

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has held that a post-conviction court isn’t required to accept any proffered agreement from a defendant because that type of proceeding isn’t the same as a civil hearing and the Indiana Supreme Court has given local judges final authority in accepting or denying agreements.

In Steven Jackson v. State of Indiana, No. 31A01-1109-PC-412, the three-judge appellate panel affirmed a ruling from Harrison Superior Judge  Roger Davis that partially granted a post-conviction relief petition but denied the appellant-defendant’s request to accept a proffered agreement in that hearing.

Steven Jackson pled guilty in 2007 to felony operating while intoxicated and to his status as a habitual substance offender, resulting from a prior Floyd County drunk driving conviction. While the appellate court’s record doesn’t reflect the sentence Jackson received from the trial court, Jackson was apparently placed on probation for an unspecified amount of time and in 2010 the state filed a petition to revoke his probation based on an alleged violation of operating a vehicle as a habitual traffic offender. In December 2010, Jackson’s counsel filed a PCR petition seeking to vacate his guilty pleas to his OWI conviction and habitual status enhancement. At some point, Jackson reached an agreement with the state to set aside the felony conviction and enhancement to allow him to plead guilty to public intoxication, and his sentence would be time served.

At a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the agreement in its entirety but granted Jackson’s petition, setting aside his habitual enhancement and reducing the Class D felony OWI conviction to a Class A misdemeanor.

On appeal, Jackson argued the post-conviction court had no discretion to deny his proffered agreement because in civil cases trial courts have no discretion and must accept agreed judgments as presented. He argued the court couldn’t consider the substance of the proposed agreement and it was merely required to accept it without question.

Citing Indiana Supreme Court precedent from 2001, the appellate panel disagreed with Jackson’s contention that a post-conviction proceeding is equivalent to a civil proceeding because it’s a “collateral attack on the validity of a criminal conviction.” Even if the process is civil in nature, the PCR process still stems from a criminal conviction and those rules apply.

Judge Carr Darden wrote for the unanimous panel, which also included Judges John Baker and Mark Bailey.

 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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