ILNews

Woman didn't prove she should get new trial

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Finding a defendant didn't meet her burden of proving her newly discovered evidence claim, the Indiana Court of Appeals today upheld the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief. The appellate court also ruled the court didn't err in excluding expert testimony during her post-conviction hearing.

In Alexa Whedon v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0808-PC-677, Alexa Whedon was convicted of murder under an accomplice liability theory; the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed her conviction and sentence on direct appeal.

In 2004, she filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging she had newly discovered evidence based on information from Michelle Griffin. Griffin testified that she was in jail on a forgery charge at the same time as Whedon and three other inmates who testified at Whedon's trial about what Whedon had told them regarding her connection to the murder.

Griffin claimed the women were lying and banded together on one story to benefit their own incarceration. The post-conviction court questioned Griffin's credibility and ruled her testimony was just mere impeachment evidence of the state's witnesses and doesn't meet the newly discovered evidence test.

The Court of Appeals found Whedon failed to prove three of the nine requirements of when new evidence mandates a new trial when it found Griffin's testimony was merely impeaching, not worthy of credit, and wouldn't probably produce different results at trial. The appellate court only addressed the credibility issue. The post-conviction court found Griffin to be vague in her answers and lacking credibility, so Whedon failed to show she's entitled to a new trial, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik.

The Court of Appeals examined the testimony of Whedon's expert witness, Rob Warden, who spoke about incentivized witnesses and wrongful convictions. Warden had conducted studies on wrongful convictions involving "snitches." The post-conviction court excluded his testimony on the grounds it violated Ind. Evid. Rules 702 and 704.

The subject of "incentivized testimony" isn't a scientific, technical, or other specialized area in which an expert must guide the trier of fact, wrote Judge Vaidik. Because his testimony fell within the trier of fact's common sense, it wasn't helpful and was properly excluded. In addition, his testimony implies the witnesses in this case didn't testify truthfully or were more likely than not to lie; Rule 704(b), she wrote, prohibits a witness from testifying about whether a witness has testified truthfully.

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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