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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. 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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