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Court rules on appellate counsel issue in child molesting case

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A decade-old old case from the Indiana Court of Appeals doesn’t apply to child molesting cases, the state’s second highest appellate court has ruled.

In an eight-page decision today in Fred Giddings v. State of Indiana, No. 40A01-0909-PC-455, the intermediate appellate panel explored a post-conviction petition on a Jennings County child molesting case, in which the appellate court on direct appeal in 2001 affirmed five convictions resulting in a 90-year sentence. Following that, Giddings alleged that he had received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel because that attorney hadn’t challenged one of the felony child molesting convictions on the grounds of a potentially non-unanimous verdict.

Despite the fact that the trial counsel hadn’t raised an objection to that issue and the appellate counsel couldn’t be held at fault for what the other lawyer didn’t do, the Court of Appeals found the direct appeal counsel wasn’t ineffective. Fred Giddings had argued that his appellate lawyer wasn’t effective based on Castillo v. State, 734 N. E.2d 299 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), which relied on a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1999 as sole authority. That federal ruling in Richardson v. United States, 526 U.S. 813, 119 S.Ct. 1707, 143 L.Ed.2d 985 (1999), held that state courts have sometimes permitted jury disagreement in cases involving sexual crimes against a minor, and that those crimes can involve “special difficulties of proving individual underlying criminal acts.”

“These ‘special difficulties’ do not disappear at the time the jury determines what the State has proven; indeed the Richardson court recognized the special difficulties of proving individual criminal acts,” Senior Judge Betty Barteau wrote for the unanimous panel, which included a concurrence in result from Judge Michael Barnes. “We hold that Castillo is not applicable in child molest cases, and appellate counsel was not ineffective for not raising the case and the issue of unanimous verdicts.”
 

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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