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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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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