ILNews

SCOTUS asked to hear stun-belt case

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

When the Supreme Court of the United States returns for its new term beginning in October, Indiana will likely learn whether the high court will hear a case relating to a stun-belt restraint used here during a convicted murder’s trial.

The Indiana attorney general’s office filed a response in mid-June to the certiorari petition filed earlier this year on behalf of John Stephenson, convicted in 1997 for three murders and sentenced to death.

U.S. Judge Theresa Springmann in the Northern District of Indiana found in his favor on a habeas corpus petition and reversed the death sentence, but she didn’t consider all of his arguments on the merits. Last year, the 7th Circuit ordered her to reconsider that ruling because of potential prejudice resulting from his wearing the stun-belt at the sentencing phase. The full appellate court declined to revisit the case en banc and Stephenson could get a new trial based on that penalty-specific issue.

Urging the justices to deny certiorari, the AG’s 11-page brief says SCOTUS review is premature because the lower federal courts haven’t fully analyzed the stun-belt restraint claim involving ineffective assistance of counsel. The AG also objects to Stephenson’s suggestion that the justices retroactively apply recent precedent to his case in a way that is essentially creating a new criminal procedure rule. The 7th Circuit applied existing caselaw from 1984 when determining there was no reasonable probability that Stephenson would have been acquitted if his trial counsel objected to the stun belt or appeared before the jury unrestrained, according to the brief.

The SCOTUS has set this case for consideration at its late September conference following the summer recess.•
 

Rehearing "Court won't rehear stun-belt case" IL Feb. 2-15, 2011

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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