ILNews

High court transfers jury-instruction case

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The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer Thursday to a case in which a man's attempted murder conviction was ordered to be vacated as a result of his attorney's deficient performance on appeal.

At issue in Che B. Carter v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-0807-PC-444, was whether Che Carter's appellate attorney was ineffective for failing to raise an argument on appeal that the jury was erroneously instructed on the elements of attempted murder. Just a month after Carter was convicted, the Indiana Supreme Court handed down Spradlin v. State, 569 N.E.2d 948 (Ind. 1991), in which it reversed Spradlin's attempted murder conviction because an instruction didn't instruct the jury that the state was required to prove the defendant intended to kill the victim. Shortly there after, the Supreme Court handed down decisions involving cases with a similar issue. As a result of the various rulings, the state of law on the issue of attempted murder jury instructions was marked by confusion and uncertainty.

Chief Judge John Baker and Judge Paul Mathias concluded Carter was prejudiced by his attorney's error and remanded for his conviction to be vacated.

Judge Elaine Brown dissented, writing that although the instruction was erroneous and Carter's appellate counsel was deficient for failing to raise the issue on direct appeal, Carter failed to demonstrate prejudice. She would affirm the post-conviction court's denial of his petition for relief.

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