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Justices order new trial for Ripley County man

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A Ripley County man convicted of conspiring to commit burglary is entitled to a new trial due to ineffective assistance of his trial counsel and prosecutorial misconduct, the Indiana Supreme Court held.

Steven Ray Hollin filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which was granted by Ripley Circuit Judge Carl H. Taul. The Court of Appeals reversed, but the justices agreed with the post-conviction court’s ruling.

Hollin and Nathan Vogel in 2005 allegedly planned to burglarize homes in Ripley County by knocking on doors to see if anyone was home. They entered an unlocked house and Vogel stole a camera bag containing money. A woman called police because she was suspicious of the two men walking along the side of the road. Police found the bag and money on Vogel.

Originally, Vogel didn’t implicate Hollin in the plan to burglarize the home, and Hollin denied any knowledge of the burglary. He believed Vogel knew the homeowners and they went in the house to use the phone. Vogel pleaded guilty to theft as a Class D felony, which could later be reduced to a misdemeanor. Vogel had other cases pending at the time in Decatur County and pleaded guilty to those charges, but petitions to revoke his suspended sentences were later filed. That’s when Vogel changed his story and said Hollin knew of the burglary plot.

Hollin was charged with and convicted of conspiracy to commit burglary as a Class B felony and being a habitual offender. His original 40-year sentence previously was reduced by the justices to 20 years.

In State of Indiana v. Steven Ray Hollin, 69S05-1201-PC-6, the justices found Hollin’s argument that his counsel was ineffective for failing to present evidence that would have impeached Vogel’s credibility to be compelling. The details of Vogel’s plea agreements should have come out at trial – the jury only knew that Vogel had pleaded guilty and was in jail. The jury could have assumed he pleaded guilty to the same charge Hollin faced and was serving a lengthy sentence.  

There was also prosecutorial misconduct because the jury didn’t know that there was a petition to revoke Vogel’s probations, that there were pending charges against him, or that he didn’t implicate Hollin until after he was charged with battery with a deadly weapon and his probations may have been revoked. This violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), the post-conviction court found, and the justices agreed.

They remanded his case for a new trial.

 

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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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