ILNews

Court grants transfer in prisoner suit

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving whether a man's request challenging his prison detainment should have been treated as post-conviction relief or a writ of habeas corpus.

Justices granted transfer late last week in Floyd Tewell v. State of Indiana, No. 48A02-0701-PC-118, which comes after a Nov. 5, 2007, decision from the Court of Appeals that had affirmed a ruling from Madison Superior Judge Thomas Newman Jr.

The appeal stems from the court's denial of Tewell's petition for writ of habeas corpus, which the court had treated as a petition for post-conviction relief. Convicted of kidnapping and rape in the mid-1970s, Tewell had been sentenced to life imprisonment on the kidnapping conviction plus 20 years for the rape conviction. The parole board turned over the life sentence to 20 years in 1989 and he later earned parole in 1994. But a few years later, Tewell was arrested on drug charges and sentenced, and the parole board reinstated his life sentence.

Tewell filed a writ of habeas corpus in 2006, but the post-conviction court treated it as a PCR request and denied relief, granting the state's motion for summary disposition. He appealed on grounds that the court wrongly considered the petition as a request for post-conviction relief and also that the court wrongly found the parole board didn't discharge him from a life sentence.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court, relying on a 2001 ruling in which it wrote that the purpose of the writ of habeas corpus is to bring the person in custody before the court for inquiry into the cause of restraint "only if he is entitled to an immediate release from an unlawful custody."

Appellate judges also determined that the life sentence wasn't discharged because Tewell hadn't been released on parole for his life sentence before turning it over to 20 years.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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