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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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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