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Vigo court too hasty in tossing killer’s pro se PCR petition, panel rules

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A man convicted of murder who represented himself in his post-conviction relief proceeding was wrongly denied a chance to plead his case, a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday. The court reversed an order by Vigo Superior Judge Christopher Newton summarily denying the petition.

The Indiana Supreme Court in 1995 affirmed Jerome Binkley’s conviction that came after two mistrials for the 1991 murder of Wayne Kemp in Terre Haute, even though the justices conceded no physical evidence connected Binkley to the crime. Binkley was sentenced to 60 years for murder enhanced by a 30-year term for being a habitual offender.

Binkley raised a claim of insufficient counsel in his PCR petition, arguing that his attorney failed to preserve objections to the testimony of witness Bill Loveland, and “that the knowing use of perjured testimony is fundamentally unfair.” A panel of the Court of Appeals ruled the PCR court erred when it summarily denied the petition in Jerome Binkley v. State of Indiana, 84A05-1208-PC-441.

“While our Supreme Court mentioned Loveland’s perjured testimony, it did not address the testimony in terms of whether the manner in which Binkley’s trial counsel sought to prevent or counteract the testimony amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel,” Judge Rudy Pyle III wrote for the panel. “In other words, whether the performance of Binkley’s trial counsel (1) fell below an objective standard of reasonableness; and (2) but for counsel’s errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.

“Ineffective assistance is a separate and distinct inquiry from whether there is sufficient evidence to support a conviction. This is partly why an ineffective assistance claim is available for post-conviction relief, even when the issue is available and not raised on direct appeal,” Pyle wrote.

“Because Binkley has pled sufficient facts to raise an issue of possible merit, we find that the trial court erred in summarily denying Binkley’s PCR petition. As a result, we remand for further proceedings on Binkley’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim and direct the post-conviction court to issue findings of fact and conclusions of law consistent with Post-Conviction Rule 1(6).”

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  1. Based on several recent Indy Star articles, I would agree that being a case worker would be really hard. You would see the worst of humanity on a daily basis; and when things go wrong guess who gets blamed??!! Not biological parent!! Best of luck to those who entered that line of work.

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  4. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

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