APPELLANT, PRO SE ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
DAVID M. JONES STEVE CARTER
Michigan City, Indiana Attorney General of Indiana
RICHARD C. WEBSTER
Deputy Attorney General
DAVID MICHAEL JONES, ) ) Appellant (Defendant Below ), ) 48S04-0212-PC-629 ) in the Supreme Court v. ) ) 48A04-0109-PC-406 STATE OF INDIANA, ) in the Court of Appeals ) Appellee (Plaintiff Below ). )
June 3, 2003
The investigating officer recorded the encounter as having occurred at Pendleton. Jones
complained strongly during a later visit to the police station, demanding that the
report be changed to show that the accident had occurred at 20th and
The State eventually charged Jones with false informing, a class A misdemeanor under
Ind. Code § 35-44-2-2(c), alleging that he gave false information to an officer
concerning his involvement in a property damage accident.
While Jones was out on bail concerning this charge, he and Dobbs former
wife Brandy chased after Dobbs car one day. Brandy threw something at
Dobbs car and said she would see the kids dead before you get
em. (Tr. at 44.) Jones pulled out his gun, pointing it
in the air, and said, Im just gonna kill ya, and then drove
This event led to additional class A misdemeanor charges of intimidation, Ind. Code
Ann. §35-45-2-1 (West 1998), and possession of marijuana, Ind. Code Ann. §35-48-4-11 (West
1998). The latter resulted from marijuana found on Jones when he was
arrested on the intimidation charge. This time, Jones remained in jail pending
After a bench trial, the court found Jones guilty on all three counts
and imposed consecutive sentences of one year on each.
Jones did not file the request for trial de novo that was available
to him. In 1998, he sought permission for a belated appeal; it
was denied and the denial was not appealed. His 1999 petition
for post-conviction relief was denied, and he did not appeal that denial either.
As a result of Jones request to the Court of Appeals for
permission to file a successive petition, the trial court entered a second denial,
which is the subject of this appeal. The Court of Appeals adjudicated
Jones various claims without addressing the applicability of post-conviction procedures to city and
town courts. Jones v. State, 777 N.E.2d 1 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002).
We granted transfer.
The State argues that post-conviction remedies do not lie in city court because of the special opportunity possessed by criminal defendants for trial de novo. Persons found guilty in city courts enjoy the most congenial form of appeal known to our system. Upon the filing of a request with the county clerk within fifteen days of being sentenced in city court, they are entitled to a trial de novo in the circuit or superior court. Ind. Trial de Novo Rule 3(B)(1). The same is true of certain judgments issued by town courts.
The State is certainly correct that Indiana practice affords those convicted in city court a remarkably easy appeal: file a request and the conviction evaporates until the prosecution proves its case yet again in a different court. The Attorney General asserts generally that the liberality of this practice makes post-conviction relief unnecessary.
Still, Indiana has maintained a long tradition of post-conviction relief, including a right
to counsel still not afforded by many other states. See White v.
State, 497 N.E.2d 893, 895-96 (Ind. 1986) (describing history of collateral review from
1882 onward); Ind. Code Ann. §§ 33-1-7-1 to 33-1-7-2(a) (West 1996) (providing post-conviction
counsel at public expense commencing in 1945 under Acts 1945, Ch. 38, §
A post-conviction request is by its nature directed to the court in which
the conviction was entered. Other than that, examination of the central rule
on post-conviction relief reveals no apparent limitation on forum: A proceeding under
this Rule is commenced by filing three (3) copies of a verified petition
with the clerk of the court in which the conviction took place.
P-C.R. 1, §2.
While the rule itself seems generally applicable, we conclude that it was written
with the courts of record in mind. In those courts, the transcript
of the trial makes it feasible to assess the sort of claims that
are commonly the topic of post-conviction proceedings. For a claim of newly-discovered
evidence, to take an example, the trial record enables the post-conviction court to
determine whether the evidence is actually new and whether its existence casts doubt
on the reliability of the former proceeding. Similarly, when a post-conviction petitioner
claims ineffective assistance of counsel, the trial record is available to test the
adequacy of counsels performance.
Such assessments would often be impossible when the judgment in question is not
from a court of record. In the absence of a transcript, a
post-conviction judge would have available, at best, the memories of the participants in
a misdemeanor trial that occurred years in the past. Such evidence would
rarely be useful; the chances that a post-conviction judgment on such matters would
be any more reliable than the original trial are slim. While the
ably-run Anderson City Court has produced a transcript of Jones trial, the resolution
of the legal issue posed here cannot turn on whether transcripts exist in
some places and not in others.
We conclude that the liberality of Indianas approach to trial de novo is
more likely to produce just outcomes than application of Post-Conviction Rule 1 would
provide in this setting, and thus hold that post-conviction petitions may not be
filed in city and town courts. Of course, a person who invokes
the right to trial de novo and is nonetheless convicted is entitled to
pursue post-conviction relief in respect of that conviction.
DICKSON, SULLIVAN, BOEHM, and RUCKER, JJ., concur.