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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court also issues another opinion today

In Gregory Charles Hall v. State of Indiana, a 9-page opinion, Justice Rucker writes:

A petitioner who pursues a claim for post-conviction relief challenging a plea of guilty on the ground that he was not advised of his Boykin rights is not entitled to relief solely because the guilty plea record is lost and cannot be reconstructed. Rather, the petitioner has the burden of demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence that he is entitled to relief. * * *

Hall contends the post-conviction court erred in denying his petition for relief because there is no record that he was advised of certain constitutional rights as required by Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238 (1969). In Boykin, the United States Supreme Court held that it was reversible error for the trial judge to accept petitioner’s guilty plea without an affirmative showing that it was intelligent and voluntary. Id. at 242. More particularly, Boykin requires that the record must show, or there must be an allegation and evidence which show, that the defendant was informed of, and waived, three specific federal constitutional rights: the privilege against compulsory self-incrimination, right to trial by jury, and the right to confront one’s accusers. Id. at 243. The Court made clear, “[w]e cannot presume a waiver of these three important federal rights from a silent record.” Id.

Here however we are faced not with a silent record, but a missing record, an issue this Court addressed in Zimmerman v. State, 436 N.E.2d 1087 (Ind. 1982). * * *

A petitioner cannot obtain post-conviction relief on the ground of the lack of Boykin advisements simply by proving that the guilty plea record is lost and cannot be reconstructed. Rather, as with any claim, the petitioner has the burden of demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence that he is entitled to post-conviction relief. Because the petitioner here failed to carry his burden, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court. Judgment affirmed.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 20, 2006 11:49 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions