Justices grant transfer for reconsideration in second PCR petition case

Indiana Supreme Court justices have reversed for reconsideration a case involving a child molester’s petition for post-conviction relief after he asserted that his second PCR petition only raised issues that emerged after his habitual offender conviction was reversed and remanded for a new trial.

James Saylor, sentenced in 2016 to an aggregate 138 years on child molesting convictions, sought transfer from an Indiana Court of Appeals order dismissing his appeal with prejudice, concluding that his second petition for post-conviction relief was a successive petition and that the COA did not authorize its filing under Indiana Post-Conviction Rule 1(12).

After the Court of Appeals dismissed Appellant’s appeal, this Court handed down Shaw v. State, 130 N.E.3d 91 (Ind. 2019). We held Shaw’s second post-conviction petition was not a successive petition because it addressed only issues emerging from Shaw’s second direct appeal that were not present when Shaw filed his first petition for post-conviction relief. Shaw therefore could pursue his second petition without seeking leave from the Court of Appeals pursuant to Post-Conviction Rule 1(12),” Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote in a Friday order.

“On transfer, Appellant cites Shaw and argues his second petition for post-conviction relief raises only issues emerging after the Court of Appeals reversed his habitual offender conviction and remanded for a new trial on that charge. In response, the State correctly concedes that Appellant may pursue his second petition without prior authorization to the extent it is limited to issues that were not present when he filed his first post-conviction petition and arose only after remand,” the order says.

The high court therefore granted transfer, vacated the appellate court’s order and remanded the case to the trial court to reconsider in light of Shaw.

“On remand, the trial court must consider and decide the merits of only those issues arising after the Court of Appeals reversed Appellant’s habitual-offender conviction and remanded for a new trial,” the unanimous high court concluded.

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