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Denial of post-conviction relief upheld by COA

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Even if the Indiana Court of Appeals was to assume that a defendant’s trial counsel performed below prevailing professional norms by not explaining the potential immigration consequences of his guilty plea, the judges ruled the defendant wasn’t prejudiced because the trial court explained those consequences.

In Roberto Barajas v. State of Indiana, 10A01-1208-PC-387, Roberto Barajas asked the COA to reverse the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which alleged his trial counsel was ineffective for not explaining to him the deportation consequences of his 2006 guilty plea to Class D felony possession of cocaine.  Barajas is not a citizen of the U.S. and speaks just a little English. Ramona Sharp translated his guilty plea hearing.

The trial judge at Barajas’ hearing explained to him that by pleading guilty, he could face immigration consequences, such as deportation. The judge allowed Barajas and his attorney time to speak off the record to determine whether he would continue to plead guilty. After the break, Barajas said he wanted to plead guilty and that his attorney did a good job representing him.

Last year, Barajas filed his petition for post-conviction relief. At the hearing, he said he was taken into custody by immigration authorities based on the 2006 conviction. He attempted to call Sharp as a witness, but she did not show on the first day and he decided on the second day not to call her.

The trial court denied his petition based in part on the trial court’s warnings to Barajas on deportation consequences for pleading.

The record shows Sharp translated the guilty plea hearing, Barajas told the court he understood Sharp, the court advised him of potential deportation consequences, and that he told the court his attorney did a good job representing him.

Even if his attorney’s performance was inefficient, it didn’t prejudice Barajas because of the trial judge’s advisement, the COA held. In addition, Barajas testified at the post-conviction hearing that he recalled Sharp telling him something about those potential consequences, but he didn’t remember what she said.

“This belies Barajas’ claim that he did not understand the guilty-plea proceedings. Thus, the post-conviction court was free to make a credibility determination on this issue,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote.

 

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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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