COA: Man should have met with state public defender’s office

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the grant of the state’s motion for summary denial of man’s request for post-conviction relief because his case was not forwarded to the State Public Defender’s Office.

William Cox was convicted of being a habitual traffic violator on Feb. 6, 1987, with his license to be suspended for 10 years. On April 23, 1999, Cox was convicted of operating a vehicle as a habitual traffic violator, sentenced to 2 ½ years and had his driving privileges suspended.

On Feb. 24, 2015, Cox filed a pro se handwritten petition for PCR, saying he should not have been charged with operating a vehicle as a habitual traffic violator because his license was no longer suspended as it was more than 10 years since his first conviction. He later filed a formal PCR petition stating he wanted a state public defender to represent him. The court did not order a copy of his petition sent to the office.

The state filed a motion for summary denial, saying Cox did not have a claim for which relief could be granted, because in 1993, Cox was convicted of operating a vehicle after being adjudged a habitual traffic offender, and his driving privileges were suspended for life. The trial court granted the state’s motion.

Cox appealed, saying the court did not send his application for represented to the public defender’s office. The COA said failure of a post-conviction court to refer a petition to the State Public Defender’s office with proper proof of indigence, as Cox’s had, is automatic grounds for reversal and remand, and did so.

The COA told the post-conviction court to forward Cox’s petition to the state public defender.

The case is William Cox v. State of Indiana, 29A02-1508-PC-1221.

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