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. Great observation Smith. By my lights, speaking personally, they already have. They counted my religious perspective in a pro-life context as a symptom of mental illness and then violated all semblance of due process to banish me for life from the Indiana bar. The headline reveals the truth of the Hoosier elite's animus. Details here: Denied 2016 petition for cert (this time around): (“2016Pet”) Amicus brief 2016: (“2016Amici”) As many may recall, I was banned for five years for failing to "repent" of my religious views on life and the law when a bar examiner demanded it of me, resulting in a time out to reconsider my "clinging." The time out did not work, so now I am banned for life. Here is the five year time out order: Denied 2010 petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): (“2010Pet”) Read this quickly if you are going to read it, the elites will likely demand it be pulled down or pile comments on to bury it. (As they have buried me.)

  2. if the proabortion zealots and intolerant secularist anti-religious bigots keep on shutting down every hint of religious observance in american society, or attacking every ounce of respect that the state may have left for it, they may just break off their teeth.

  3. "drug dealers and traffickers need to be locked up". "we cannot afford just to continue to build prisons". "drug abuse is strangling many families and communities". "establishing more treatment and prevention programs will also be priorities". Seems to be what politicians have been saying for at least three decades now. If these are the most original thoughts these two have on the issues of drug trafficking and drug abuse, then we're no closer to solving the problem than we were back in the 90s when crack cocaine was the epidemic. We really need to begin demanding more original thought from those we elect to office. We also need to begin to accept that each of us is part of the solution to a problem that government cannot solve.

  4. What is with the bias exclusion of the only candidate that made sense, Rex Bell? The Democrat and Republican Party have created this problem, why on earth would anyone believe they are able to fix it without pushing government into matters it doesn't belong?

  5. This is what happens when daddy hands over a business to his moron son and thinks that everything will be ok. this bankruptcy is nothing more than Gary pulling the strings to never pay the creditors that he and his son have ripped off. they are scum and they know it.