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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 just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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