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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he didn’t implicate Hollin until after he was charged with battery with a deadly weapon and his probations may have been revoked.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. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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