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Judges order habitual offender enhancement vacated

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A post-conviction court erred when it denied a defendant’s request for post-conviction relief to vacate a habitual offender enhancement, finding a case decided after the man’s direct appeal applies retroactively.

John Dugan was convicted of Class B felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon in 2006. The state alleged he was a SVF because he had been convicted of Class C felony battery in 1994. The state also alleged Dugan was a habitual offender based on that 1994 conviction and an attempted burglary conviction.

After his conviction, Dugan pleaded guilty to the habitual offender allegation in exchange for the minimum 10-year sentence for the enhancement. His total sentence was 15 years for the SVF conviction enhanced 10 years. The conviction was affirmed on direct appeal in February 2007.

Dugan later sought relief based on Mills v. State, 868 N.E.2d 446 (Ind. 2007), in which the Indiana Supreme Court held a person convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon may not have his sentence enhanced under the general habitual offender statute by proof of the same felony used to establish he was a serious violent felon. The post-conviction court denied relief, citing Townsend v. State, 793 N.E.2d 1092 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003), as applicable since it was in effect at the time Dugan was sentenced.

Dugan wanted Mills applied retroactively to his case, which the state fought. The state claimed because Dugan pleaded guilty, he’s not entitled to relief even if Mills is retroactive.

Dugan’s guilty plea does not preclude relief because he did not receive a favorable outcome as a result of the plea, Judge Michael Barnes wrote in John A. Dugan v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1202-PC-50. The judges cited State v. Jones, 835 N.E.2d 1002, 1004 (Ind. 2005), and Ross v. State, 729 N.E.2d 113 (Ind. 2000), to support applying Mills retroactively.

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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