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7th Circuit denies convicted murderer habeas relief

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An Indiana man who was denied habeas relief, arguing his trial attorney was ineffective for not trying to suppress as evidence clothing he had given to police after his arrest, lost his appeal before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday.

Tyrone L. Jones was convicted of murder and other charges related to the death of Sam Alexander in Indianapolis. Jones was allegedly the last person to see Alexander alive. A witness saw him with Alexander’s television, which Jones had pawned. He also attempted to pawn Alexander’s microwave.

Police found Alexander dead in his apartment with his hands bound. When Jones was brought to police headquarters for questioning by Detective Charles Benner, Jones signed a form that contained sections of advice of rights and waiver of rights. Jones agreed to give Benner his shoes and clothing. The shoe print of Jones’ shoe was the same as one that appeared on a pillowcase in the house.

Jones appealed his convictions, which were upheld, and then sought post-conviction relief in state court. He claimed ineffective assistance of trial counsel based on his attorneys’ failure to object to the admission of the evidence related to the seizure of his shoes on the basis of Pirtle v. State, 323 N.E.2d. 634 (Ind. 1975).  The post-conviction court concluded that Jones had voluntarily surrendered the clothing. The Court of Appeals denied his claim, finding the mere admission of his shoes or clothing did not prejudice him.

“Here, Detective Benner’s request for Mr. Jones’s shoes fits comfortably within the category of searches to which Pirtle does not apply. It was limited in scope and was minimally intrusive – certainly less so than a blood sample or even a cheek swab. Mr. Jones has not come forward with any examples of Indiana cases that have required Pirtle warnings in circumstances similar to his, nor is there any indication that Indiana courts are inclined to extend the rule of Pirtle to apply in such circumstances,” Judge Kenneth Ripple wrote in Tyrone L. Jones v. Richard Brown, 12-3245.

“In the present case, had Mr. Jones’s counsel moved to suppress the shoes, or any evidence that resulted from the testing of the shoes, on the basis of Pirtle, we believe that the state court would have denied that motion. Consequently, trial counsel’s failure to press an unavailing argument based on Pirtle was not ‘outside the wide range of professionally competent assistance’ that Strickland allows, and trial counsel was not constitutionally ineffective.”

“By determining that Mr. Jones had not established that the admission of inculpatory evidence was the result of any Pirtle error, the Court of Appeals of Indiana reasonably concluded that the second, so-called prejudice prong of Strickland had not been satisfied. Consequently, on habeas review, we cannot conclude that Mr. Jones was prejudiced by any failure of his trial counsel,” Ripple wrote.
 

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  1. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  5. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

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