Friday, August 29, 2008

More about Woods : a Correction

I was incorrect the day before yesterday in this post about Woods, the decision from the Indiana Supreme Court of a couple of days ago. Someone more knowledgeable has pointed out to me that post-conviction relief is available after probation revocation proceedings. Ind. Post-Conviction Rule § 1, 1(a)(5).

The same more knowledgeable person also had a peek into the Marion County online docket: Woods was represented by counsel at the revocation hearing.

Forgery: Strict Liability for Presenting a Forged Check? (WILTD)

What I learned today:
  1. Someone steals a blank check.
  2. Sometime later, someone buys a couch from me (I say) using the stolen, now-forged check.
  3. Three months after the check was stolen, I open a bank account using the forged check.
  4. That I present the forged check for payment, without more, is enough to support a conviction for forgery.
Gina Williams v. State, Court of Appeals No. 49A02-0801-CR-44 (Ind. Ct. App. 8/27/08).

News to me. And Judge Najam's opinion cites a number of cases older than dirt for the proposition. Slip op. at 9-10. Maybe in this case, it was just that the stolen check was number 1050 and made out for $1050. (Jeesh.)

Maybe I need to create a new Dickensian category of post: "The Law is an Ass." And in this case, it seems to have been so for a long time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

ISC Oral Argument Tomorrow: John W. Miller v. State

9:45 A.M, tomorrow, Thursday, August 28th. The live link (RealPlayer) will be up a few minutes earlier.

This is a shackling case involving a voluntary manslaughter conviction. John Pinnow is arguing it for Miller. John is great.

Joby Jerrels is the DAG on the case. I haven't seen any of his arguments.

Here's the court's blurb on the case:
The LaPorte Circuit Court ordered that Miller be placed in restraints during his trial and the Court of Appeals affirmed in an unpublished memorandum decision, Miller v. State, No. 46A04-0612-CR-696 (Ind. Ct. App. Apr. 15, 2008). Miller has petitioned the Supreme Court to accept jurisdiction over the appeal.
I would be willing to bet that the recent 7th Circuit opinion in Wrinkles v. Buss, No. 05-2747 (7th Cir. 8/12/08) plays a part in the argument. Wrinkles is a death case out of Indiana. Three to two, the 7th affirmed the denial of habeas relief on a shackling claim. Judge Rovner's dissent is compelling. And, in any event, the Indiana Supreme Court's shackling opinion from 2001 only just escaped, thanks to some fancy footwork by Judge Kanne that I find merely a tortured reading of Justice Rucker's opinion.

Brian Woods v. State (Ind. 8/27/08): Offer to Prove after the Judge Says No?

Woods v. State, Supreme Court No. 49S04-0808-CR-469 (Ind. 8/27/08) is an odd little case. It is odd, if only because the Indiana Supreme Court took it up at all. It did not even rate oral argument.

Here's about what happened:
  1. Woods is on probation.
  2. Any violation will lead to 15 years of backup time.
  3. The State files a notice saying he missed some urine screens.
  4. Woods asks the trial court if he can explain.
  5. The trial court says no, because any violation leads to the backup time.
  6. The Indiana Supreme Court says that it's over, because Woods did not make an offer to prove.
This may be unobjectionable, if Woods was represented at the probation revocation hearing. Nothing in either the Supreme Court case or the original Court of Appeals opinion says that he was. It seems to me unreasonable to expect someone unrepresented to continue after a judge has said he may not explain--that is, that he may not produce evidence that he violated the terms of the probation.
[Update (8/29/08): Woods was represented. See this post.]

If Woods had good reasons for missing the urine screens, this is particularly ugly, because post-conviction relief is not available with respect to probation revocation proceedings. [Update (8/29/08): This is incorrect. See this post with the correction.]

I guess the Supreme Court took it up, because the Court of Appeals opinion was published and said some unnecessary things about "strict compliance" probation terms.

From a litigant's perspective, this is ugly too. Woods's petition to transfer was filed at the end of December 2007. By now, both Woods and his lawyer would have been reading tea leaves. None of the leaves would have suggested a grant of transfer with an affirmance--especially when the State did not file a transfer brief in opposition. Had I been Woods's lawyer today, I would have been shocked and dismayed, after being thrilled, to see the opinion appear out of nowhere with an affirmance.

But that's the way this business of criminal defense is. A court reporter in the Autonomous Republic of Lake (County) once referred to it as "grave-digger's work."