Court: S.C. decision not retroactive

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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In a case of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today that retroactivity doesn't apply to a year-old Indiana Supreme Court decision that held charging information must be amended within 30 days before the omnibus date.

As a result of the ruling, a Hendricks County man convicted of child molesting doesn't get relief.

At issue in Terry Leatherwood's appeal in Terry Leatherwood v. State of Indiana, No. 32A05-0710-PC-573, is whether the post-conviction court erred in refusing to apply the holding of Fajardo v. State, 859 N.E.2d 1201 (Ind. 2007) to his petition for post-conviction relief.

In late 2001, Leatherwood was charged with several counts of child molesting and the omnibus date was set for Jan. 18, 2002, with trial scheduled for June 10 of that year. The state in May 2002 attempted to amend five additional counts of child molesting, which were dismissed pursuant to a motion by Leatherwood. The state then amended three of the counts, petitioned the court to allow counts four through seven, and the trial court allowed counts four and seven to be filed and amended.

Leatherwood was convicted of all counts of child molesting and sentenced to an aggregate term of 120 years in prison.

Leatherwood appealed in 2003, and the Court of Appeals ruled that allowing the state to file the amended charges after the omnibus date did not prejudice Leatherwood.

But in January 2007, the Indiana Supreme Court issued its Fajardo decision and held that amendments of substance to charging information couldn't be made after 30 days prior to the omnibus date, regardless of a lack of prejudice. Leatherwood, who had filed a post-conviction petition in 2004, amended it to include his claim that the trial court erred in allowing the untimely amendment to his charging information. The post-conviction court denied his petition.

Judge Cale Bradford wrote today that Hendricks Circuit Judge Jeff Boles didn't err when determining Fajardo wasn't retroactive. Because the court's earlier ruling was based on established precedent at the time, it was not erroneous. However, if the court rules Fajardo should be applied retroactively on collateral review, Leatherwood would be entitled to relief, Judge Bradford wrote, relying on the state justices' stance following retroactivity rulings in Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989) and Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U.S. 302 (1989).

This court cannot apply the analysis found in Teague because the "new" rule - which was determined in Fajardo - is not constitutionally based, so it cannot be considered for retroactive application, Judge Bradford wrote. The rule announced in Fajardo was based solely on language in Indiana Code, not the state or federal constitution, he wrote.

Even looking outside of the Teague framework to determine whether Fajardo can be retroactively applied requires appellate judges to look to Teague for guidance, the judge determined.

"... The Teague framework stands for the proposition that the more compelling the constitutional interest, the more likely that a rule embodying it will be applied retroactively," he wrote. "With this in mind, and in light of the fact that even the most constitutional rules are not given retroactive effect, it follows that those not rooted in any constitutional provision, like the rule announced in Fajardo, should not be given retroactive effect either."

The Court of Appeals affirmed the post-conviction court's refusal to retroactively apply Fajardo to Leatherwood's convictions, resulting in the ultimate denial of any post-conviction relief.

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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.