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Judges order new trial due to counsel’s deficient performance

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A Marion County man was prejudiced by his counsel’s error of not timely filing a request for a jury trial, so the Indiana Court of Appeals ordered a new trial on his Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement conviction.

Willis Pryor was represented by four different public defenders by the time his bench trial began Jan. 23, 2012. He claimed that he asked for a jury trial at a Nov. 1, 2011, hearing, although he and his attorney at the time signed a form stating there would be a bench trial in January. A different attorney then filed Pryor’s request for a jury trial on Jan. 17, 2012, but inadvertently miscalculated the deadline date. The motion was denied as untimely, and Pryor was convicted at a bench trial.

The Court of Appeals reversed in Willis Pryor v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1202-CR-101, finding trial counsel’s failure to preserve Pryor’s right to a jury trial denied him effective assistance of counsel. His counsel’s performance was deficient and he was prejudiced by it. The judges cited Stevens v. State, 689 N.E.2d 487 (Ind. Ct. App. 1997), and Lewis v. State, 929 N.E.2d 261 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010), in support of his argument that failure to file a timely demand was a mistake and not a choice or trial strategy by his attorney.

“Based upon the record, we find that the failure of Pryor’s counsel to timely file a written request for a jury trial fell below the range of professionally competent representation,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote.

 

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  1. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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