ILNews

SCOTUS denies Vanderburgh County case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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The nation's highest court won't take a Vanderburgh County case decided last year by the Indiana Supreme Court, which by a split vote reinstated the death sentence for a man convicted of murdering his wife and two young children.

At its weekly private conference March 28, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in Paul M. McManus v. State of Indiana, No. 07-8435. After ruling in State of Indiana v. Paul M. McManus, No. 82S00-0503-PD-78, June 27, 2007, the Indiana Supreme Court denied a rehearing in September, and McManus appealed to SCOTUS in December 2007.

This denial means the state court's 3-2 decision stands, reversing a ruling by a lower court that McManus was mentally retarded and should be sentenced to life without parole.

McManus was convicted of the 2001 shooting murders of his wife and two children, and sentenced to death. He petitioned for post-conviction relief in 2005 after the state justices affirmed his convictions and sentence. His main argument rejected at the time was that he wasn't competent to stand trial. But in March 2006, Senior Judge William J. Brune ruled McManus was retarded and therefore couldn't be executed. The state appealed and won.

Justices Ted Boehm and Robert D. Rucker dissented from the majority of Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justices Brent Dickson and Frank Sullivan.

Dissenting justices relied on a ruling in Pruitt v. State, 834 N.E.2d 90, 104 (Ind. 2005) that affirmed a finding the defendant wasn't mentally retarded despite "significant evidence suggesting he was."

But the majority disagreed.

"The post-conviction court's finding that McManus possesses significantly subaverage intellectual functioning was clearly erroneous," Chief Justice Shepard wrote.

"In sum, McManus does not satisfy the intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior prongs. As such, the rule of Atkins does not bar the death penalty."
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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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