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Defense attorneys lose appeal for compensation

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Two private defense lawyers in Marion County failed to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that they should be retroactively appointed by the Marion County Public Defender Agency and compensated for their legal work on a case that has an intricate maze of attorney representation over the course of five years.

The court’s ruling came Friday in Timothy-Patrick Treacy v. State, No. 49A02-1010-CR-1254, an attorney fee-focused continuation of a criminal appeal that a separate appellate panel had decided in a not-for-publication ruling in September 2010.

In the underlying case that evolved in Marion Superior Judge Rueben Hill’s court, Timothy-Patrick Treacy was charged in August 2006 with two misdemeanor and two felony drunk driving counts and a misdemeanor public intoxication charge. But multiple delays involving attorney representation and court congestion pushed his jury trial back three years, and Treacy was eventually convicted on all counts in August 2009. He received a sentence that was mostly suspended and resulted in 100 days in jail and probation.

Treacy challenged the convictions on grounds that he didn’t receive a trial within one year as required by Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C), but the appellate court in September 2010 affirmed the lower court’s findings because the delays were mostly caused by the defendant.

But the lawyering continued, as private attorneys Paul Ogden and Patrick Stern who’d represented Treacy toward the end of those four years argued they should be retroactively appointed as public defenders and compensated for their work. The roadmap to Treacy’s representation is scattered through two appellate records, from this most recent attorney-fees ruling to the original Court of Appeals’ NFP decision upholding Treacy’s criminal convictions and sentence.

In the four years from when the case began to when it was completed in Marion Superior Court, the defendant had five lawyers representing him at the trial level along with multiple stints of pro se representation – the list includes two private attorneys whom Treacy fired, a public defender he threatened to file a lawsuit against, and two private attorneys who were later ordered to stay on the case or represent him intermittently because of counsel indecision or delays.

James Recker was hired and then fired between August 2006 and June 2007, and Treacy wasn’t sure about hiring another lawyer or proceeding pro se. The judge appointed Marion County public defender A.J. Reiber until the defendant decided how he wanted to proceed.

Private attorney Jeffrey McQuary appeared for a September 2007 hearing, but within four months Treacy fired him. Treacy wanted to proceed pro se, and told the court that Reiber couldn’t be re-appointed because he was threatening to sue the public defender on claims he owed Treacy $3.5 million for violating his rights.

After more delays, private defense attorney Patrick Stern represented Treacy at a January 2009 hearing after the defendant’s mother retained him for $1,000.

Several more disagreements surfaced between Treacy and his counsel, with Stern noting more than once that he’d been terminated, but the defendant indicated that was not the case and the court ordered Stern to remain as counsel on the case. At one point in July 2009, after Treacy again said he’d fired Stern, Senior Judge Richard Sallee ordered Paul Ogden, who was sitting in the courtroom gallery at the time, to assist in reviewing some tapes because he was representing Treacy in an unconnected civil matter.

About three years after the man had first been charged, the jury trial commenced and Treacy was convicted and sentenced within a month. Both Ogden and Stern were representing Treacy at the time, the court records show.

Within a month of Treacy’s sentencing, Ogden and Stern both filed petitions ordering the county to pay for their costs, which were $3,765 and $3,500 respectively. Judge Hill denied the motions, and the Indiana Court of Appeals has now dismissed the appeal – mostly because the majority found that Ogden and Stern weren’t parties to the case and Treacy hadn’t requested public appointment of the two lawyers.

Finding that it didn’t have subject matter jurisdiction, the appellate court described this as an attempt to circumvent trial and appellate rules to litigate a compensation dispute with the MCPDA on appeal rather than through a separate lawsuit.

“Although this appeal is styled as a challenge to the trial court’s denial of Treacy’s request for counsel at public expense, no such denial is actually claimed,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote. “This appeal is, in fact, an appeal prosecuted by Ogden and Stern on their own behalf in an attempt to have the MCPDA reimburse them for representing Treacy.”

Judge John Baker concurred, but Judge Melissa May disagreed and found that Ogden and Stern were proper parties and they should address the merits. She would affirm the attorney fee denials because Treacy had not raised this argument on appeal and waived it, but also because he’d been given the chance for a public defender.

“If a defendant wishes representation at public expense, he must accept the public defender appointed by the trial court; to permit any other system would undermine the public defender system created by our legislature and increase the cost of providing defense for all indigent defendants.”

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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