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'Prison mailbox rule' applies to direct appeals

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The "prison mailbox rule," which the Indiana Court of Appeals had previously determined applies in post-conviction proceedings, also is applicable in direct appeals, the appellate court decided today.

In Robert E. Lawrence II v. State of Indiana, No. 29A02-0906-CR-580, the Court of Appeals ruled the trial court erred when it denied Robert Lawrence II permission to file a belated notice of appeal because his appeal was timely filed.

The trial court originally sentenced Lawrence Dec. 10, 2008, to 1,095 days in the Indiana Department of Correction, with all but one year suspended. The trial court amended the sentence two days later, saying it should be all but 703 days were suspended.

While incarcerated, Lawrence discovered more confusion over his sentence and drafted his request to appeal on Jan. 9, 2009. He gave it to a Reception and Diagnostic Center staff member to mail. Because he didn't have access to the law library on that date, his mail was handled outside the regular law library process - outgoing inmate mail on the weekends isn't processed, logged, or provide postmarks.

The trial court received the notice Jan. 16 and ruled it received the mail after the 30-day deadline to request an appeal and that Lawrence should pursue a belated motion to appeal. The trial court then denied him permission to file the belated notice of appeal.

The state had argued that Indiana hasn't stated a prison mailbox rule for criminal direct appeals. That rule says pro se filings from an incarcerated litigant are considered filed at the time they are delivered to prison authorities for forwarding to the court. Indiana has recognized that rule in the post-conviction context in Dowell v. State, 908 N.E.2d 643 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009); the state claims that ruling only applies in state post-conviction proceedings and depositing a pleading with prison officials isn't recognized by Indiana Trial Rule 5(F) as a permissible manner of filing.

"We do not believe the holding in Dowell was intended to foreclose the prison mailbox rule's application to other matters; there was simply no need to make a more sweeping pronouncement as to its application to situations not relevant to that case," wrote Judge Margret Robb. She noted the appellate court found no reason why the same analysis making it applicable in post-conviction proceedings shouldn't also apply to direct appeals.

Lawrence's request for an appeal was given to prison officials five days before his deadline to file the notice of appeal, so it was timely filed. As such, the appellate court granted him permission to pursue a belated appeal on the merits.

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  1. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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