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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today, a reversal

In TROY R. SHAW v. BILL WILSON (SD Ind., Magnus-Stinson), a 24-page opinion, Judge Woods writes:

Troy Shaw and two other men were arrested and charged by the State of Indiana in an information with aggravated battery after Brett King was beaten to death outside a motel in Fort Wayne. Shaw denied participating in King’s beating, but the other two men, in exchange for prison sentences of under three years, agreed to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and to testify against Shaw. The state then moved to amend the information to elevate the charge against Shaw from aggravated battery to murder. The trial court granted the state’s motion over Shaw’s objection that the murder charge was barred by an Indiana statue that limits the time for amending charging documents. Shaw was convicted after a jury trial and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

On direct appeal, Shaw’s new lawyer abandoned trial counsel’s contention that the information was amended too late and instead pressed a futile claim that the evidence against Shaw was insufficient to support his conviction. Not surprisingly, the appellate court was unpersuaded; appellate counsel dropped the case at that point and did not file a petition to transfer with the Supreme Court of Indiana. Shaw persisted with a petition for post-conviction relief in the Indiana courts, but that too failed all the way up the line to the state supreme court. Shaw then turned to the federal court with a petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. There he argued again that his appellate lawyer’s decision to forgo challenging the validity of the amended information in favor of a frivolous sufficiency challenge constituted ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment. The district court denied relief, but we conclude—with full cognizance of the high bar that such a case must clear—that the Indiana appellate court’s decision to the contrary is an unreasonable application of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), and the elaboration on Strickland of Smith v. Robbins, 528 U.S. 259 (2000). We therefore vacate the judgment of the district court and remand with instructions to issue a writ of habeas corpus unless the State of Indiana grants Shaw a new direct appeal in which he will have the opportunity to advance the argument that his appellate counsel should have raised. * * *

Because Miller’s performance was deficient and Shaw suffered prejudice as a result, the decision of the district court is VACATED and the case is REMANDED with instructions to issue a writ of habeas corpus unless the State of Indiana grants Shaw a new appeal within 120 days after issuance of the mandate.

BTW: Note the in-text citation on p. 8 of the opinion:
After Fajardo was decided, the Indiana legislature repudiated the decision by amending the statute to allow substantive amendments to charging documents at any time before trial if not prejudicial. See I.C. § 35-34-1-5(b) (2007); Joel M. Schumm, Recent Developments in Indiana Criminal Law and Procedure, 41 IND. L. REV. 955, 955-56 (2008).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 24, 2013 01:31 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions