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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit rules in one Indiana case today

In Williams v. Lemmon (SD Ind., Judge McKinney), a per curiam 15-page opinion in a case argued Oct. 2, 2007, the Court writes:

An Indiana jury found Ronald Williams guilty of murder, and the state trial court sentenced him to 75 years’ imprisonment. Williams’s conviction and sen- tence were upheld on direct appeal and on collateral review in the Indiana courts. Williams then petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus. The district court denied that petition. We issued a certificate of appealability on the question whether his trial counsel rendered constitution- ally deficient assistance. On appeal Williams faults trial counsel for failing to interview one of two other people who arrived at the scene where the murder was com-mitted. * * *

Unless counsel never can rely on statements taken by the police, a state court does not act unreasonably when holding that choices such as Inman’s fall short of ineffective assistance. Because the Supreme Court has not established such a per se rule we do not have a single “egregious” omission that spoils what was otherwise a competent defense. Given the state court’s findings of fact, and the context of the complete work Inman did for his client, the state judiciary’s decisions cannot be set aside under the standard of §2254(d). AFFIRMED

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 4, 2009 01:34 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions