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Man entitled to new trial based on trial counsel’s performance

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A man convicted on a drug dealing charge and found to be a serious violent felon will have a new trial because his trial attorney did not file a motion to bifurcate the dealing and SVF charges, which prejudiced him, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

Vance R. Pace appealed the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he sought to set aside his convictions of Class B felonies dealing in amphetamine and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. The charges stem from his arrest by Goshen police after they discovered drugs and a gun in the car Pace was riding in, as well as a large amount of cash on Pace.

Pace’s attorney, Juan Garcia Jr., did not request that the dealing charge be bifurcated from the SVF charge at trial. The jury heard, without objection from Pace, about his prior conviction for dealing cocaine as an element of the SVF charge, and other evidence and references were introduced during trial regarding that 1992 conviction. Pace was sentenced to 30 years total on the two charges.

Pace appealed, but his convictions were upheld. He then filed his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing ineffective assistance of trial counsel, Garcia, and appellate counsel, attorney Michael Greene. Pace’s petition was denied.

In Vance R. Pace v. State of Indiana, 20A03-1206-PC-378, the Court of Appeals found that Garcia’s performance was deficient enough to warrant a new trial. Nearly a year before Pace’s trial, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled on Hines v. State, 801 N.E.2d 634 (Ind. 2004), which held it was an error to refuse a defendant’s request to bifurcate a trial where there is an SVF charge and another unrelated felony. Garcia admitted at the post-conviction relief hearing that there was “no benefit” for the jury to hear that Pace had previously been convicted as a drug dealer, but didn’t file the motion because he thought Pace had a better chance proceeding with both charges at the same time.

The Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court would have granted a motion to bifurcate and Pace was prejudiced by Garcia’s deficient performance because the jury heard evidence of Pace’s prior dealing conviction when determining if he was guilty of the current dealing charge.

Because they found that Pace’s trial attorney’s performance required a new trial, the judges did not discuss Pace’s claims regarding his appellate attorney.

 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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