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Indiana Supreme Court: Postconviction Petition Addressing Only Issues From New Trial, New Sentencing, or New Appeal From Federal Court via Habeas Proceedings Is Not a Second Petition Under State Law

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of Indiana held that a postconviction petition that raises only issues emerging from the new trial, new sentencing, or new appeal obtained from a federal court through habeas proceedings is not a second or successive petition under Indiana Post-Conviction Rule (“Ind. P-C. R.”) 1(12).

After Troy Shaw’s conviction was affirmed on direct appeal, he filed a postconviction petition that was denied in the state courts. He then filed a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus. The district court denied the petition, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment, holding that Shaw’s appellate counsel was ineffective. The Seventh Circuit remanded with instructions to issue a writ of habeas corpus unless the State of Indiana granted Shaw a new appeal within 120 days.

In Shaw’s second direct appeal, he argued that he was prejudiced when, 17 months after the omnibus date, the prosecution amended the charging information to charge him with murder instead of a Class B felony. But the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Shaw filed another petition for postconviction relief, alleging his appellate attorney failed to properly argue the issues in his new direct appeal. The trial court dismissed the petition as an unauthorized successive petition. The Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer.

The Court observed, “Any person who has been convicted of, or sentenced for, a crime by a court of this state” has the right to collaterally attack the conviction or sentence through a petition for postconviction relief. Ind. P-C. R. 1(1). But a second or successive postconviction petition cannot be filed without prior authorization from the Supreme Court in capital cases or the Court of Appeals in all other cases. Ind. P-C. R. 1(12).

In Shaw’s case, the issues he raised in his second petition for postconviction relief had not yet occurred when he filed his first postconviction motion. A postconviction petition that raises only issues emerging from a new trial, new sentencing, or new appeal obtained from a federal court through habeas proceedings is not a second or successive petition as defined by Ind. P-C. R. 1(12), the Court explained. Therefore, Shaw does not need to obtain prior authorization before filing the petition.

Accordingly, the Court remanded for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. See: Shaw v. State, 130 N.E.3d 91 (Ind. 2019). 

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