High Court Rejects Indiana Ineffective Lawyer Dispute

Indiana can’t press its claim that a convicted murderer shouldn’t be able to challenge his lawyer’s performance, after the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of its appeal today.

In declining to take the case, the high court won’t delve into whether that state provides enough of a chance for convicts to raise such claims on appeal.

Dentrell Brown and a co-defendant were convicted of murder in Indiana state court. His direct appeals and state post-conviction claims were denied.

He then filed a federal habeas petition, arguing his trial lawyer was ineffective for not insisting the judge properly instruct the jury about an evidentiary issue, he argued.

Brown defaulted the claim because he failed to raise it in state court, so federal review is barred, the district court said.

But Brown can overcome the default if he can both demonstrate ineffective assistance of post-conviction counsel and raise a substantial claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held.

“Indiana rules work together to make it unlikely that an Indiana defendant will be able to raise adequately on direct appeal a claim for ineffective assistance of trial counsel,” it said.

The case is Brown v. Brown , U.S., No. 17-887, review denied 4/16/18.