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Man to get new trial because of counsel’s performance

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Because the extent of prior bad acts admitted into evidence during a man’s trial in Hancock County was “breathtaking,” the Indiana Court of Appeals ordered he be retried on burglary and handgun charges.

Michael Williams Jr. was convicted of Class B felonies burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary, and Class C felony carrying a handgun without a license. Williams, along with two other men, agreed to break into the home of Gregory Peek to steal marijuana, money and guns from him. Williams was the only one who entered the home and was later taken into custody by police.

A “deluge” of Williams’ previous criminal acts were admitted into evidence without objection and used by the state to argue that Williams had a propensity to commit the crimes for which he was charged. That evidence included previous felony convictions for possession of cocaine and a firearm, an arrest for possession of marijuana and carrying a handgun without a license, and various other offenses Williams admitted to a police officer that he had committed.

Williams’ attorney never objected to the admission of this evidence, which was inadmissible under Indiana Evidence Rule 404(b), the judges held, so her performance was deficient. And Williams was prejudiced by her poor performance.

“We are not confident that without the evidence of Williams’ prior crimes and gun-related acts the result of the proceeding would have been the same. Learning of an extensive criminal history of an accused surely weighs heavily on the minds of jurors,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote in Michael Williams, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 30A01-1207-CR-305.

She pointed out that the state also systematically elicited improper testimony and ultimately encouraged the jury to convict Williams on that basis.

The COA reversed the convictions and ruled that Williams can be retried on the three charges.  

 

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  1. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  2. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  3. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  4. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

  5. They ruled there is no absolute right to keep a license, whether it be for a lifetime or a short period of time. So with that being said, this state taught me at the age of 15 how to obtain that license. I am actually doing something that I was taught to do, I'm not breaking the law breaking the rules and according to the Interstate Compact the National Interstate Compact...driving while suspended is a minor offense. So, do with that what you will..Indiana sucks when it comes to the driving laws, they really and truly need to reevaluate their priorities and honestly put the good of the community first... I mean, what's more important the pedophile drug dealer or wasting time and money to keep us off the streets?

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