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Judges affirm denial of post-conviction relief

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The Indiana Court of Appeals declined to find an attorney provided ineffective assistance of trial counsel to a man on trial for the second time because that attorney didn’t defend the case in the same manner as did the attorney on the first trial.

In Keith Woodson v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1108-PC-768, Keith Woodson appealed the denial of post-conviction relief relating to the representation of private attorney Paul Harper at Woodson’s second trial for murder and carrying a handgun without a license. Woodson was represented by private attorney Kimberly DeVane at his first trial, which resulted in a mistrial. DeVane withdrew her representation on the second trial due to payment concerns.

Unlike what DeVane did at the first trial, Harper didn’t question either of the two eyewitnesses on specific matters, such as their having told a detective that the person they identified as the shooter was known as “PG,” which is Woodson’s nickname. At the second trial, the state was able to present additional evidence it didn’t have at the first trial provided by an acquaintance of Woodson’s. Shelby Stone was being transported with Woodson from jail to court and claimed that Woodson told him something about the murder that would mean Woodson murdered the victim as revenge. Woodson was found guilty at his second trial.

“An argument could be made that Harper’s cross-examination of Owens and Johnson was not as thorough as DeVane’s in the first trial. However, our job here is not to grade Harper’s performance as compared to DeVane’s,” wrote Judge Michael Barnes. “Additionally, juries are not interchangeable machines but instead are made up of twelve unique individuals, and there was nothing precluding the second jury from weighing the evidence differently than the first jury.”

The appellate court found that Harper did question the eyewitnesses extensively on their identification of Woodson as the killer, and he did attempt to impeach their credibility, just not in the same manner as DeVane, wrote the judge.

The COA also declined to find that Harper was ineffective for failing to procure the services of an eyewitness identification expert to assist with and testify at the second trial.  

 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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