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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he didn’t implicate Hollin until after he was charged with battery with a deadly weapon and his probations may have been revoked.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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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