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Man can't prove ineffective lawyer assistance

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a man’s petition for post-conviction relief, finding neither his trial nor appellate counsel were ineffective in his case involving a voluntary manslaughter conviction.

Ashanti Clemons was questioned by police for the 2005 shooting of Prentice Webster. Clemons signed the advice of rights/waiver of rights form and claimed he understood the statements on the form. Clemons admitted to carrying a gun without a license and that he fired the gun. The state charged him with Class A felony voluntary manslaughter and Class C felony carrying a handgun without a license. At his first trial, he was convicted of the handgun charge, which he appealed, arguing the trial court shouldn’t have admitted his statements to the police. Clemons claimed police didn’t stop the interview when he requested counsel. The trial court held Clemons’ comments didn’t constitute an unequivocal request for an attorney.

On retrial, he was convicted of the manslaughter charge, which the COA previously affirmed. His appellate counsel did not seek transfer.

In Ashanti Clemons v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1108-PC-737, Clemons claims that Brian Lamar, his trial attorney, was ineffective because he conceded that Clemons’ request for counsel during the interrogation was equivocal and because he didn’t get school records before the first trial to prove Clemons has a low IQ.

The COA agreed with the decision by another panel of the court on Clemons’ direct appeal that his statements weren’t an unequivocal request for counsel, so he can’t prove that Lamar performed deficiently on this point. The appellate court also found that Lamar attempted to obtain the school records before the first trial but was unable to secure them through no fault of his own.

Clemons also didn’t prove that his appellate attorney, Julie Slaughter, was ineffective for not filing a petition to transfer from his voluntary manslaughter conviction. Clemons may still seek review by the Indiana Supreme Court by appealing the instant decision, so he has not been procedurally defaulted, the judges ruled.

 

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  4. JLAP and other courtiers ... Those running court systems, have most substance abuse issues. Probably self medicating to cover conscience issues arising out of acts furthering govt corruption

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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