ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE:
JOHN PINNOW STEVE CARTER
Greenwood, Indiana Attorney General of Indiana
Deputy Attorney General
RICHARD ANNES, ) ) Appellant (Defendant below ), ) 49S04-0303-PC-100 ) in the Supreme Court v. ) ) 49A04-0109-PC-410 STATE OF INDIANA, ) in the Court of Appeals ) Appellee (Plaintiff below ). )
Appellant Richard Annes has contended in this post-conviction case that he is entitled
to re-litigate a claim already decided against him in a previous proceeding because
previous judgments are not res judicata unless they were rendered by an appellate
court. He is wrong. Trial court judgments are entitled to equal
Annes pled guilty to a drug offense in 1972 and received probation.
About a decade later, after being adjudicated an habitual offender, he set about
trying to vacate the previous convictions. During a post-conviction proceeding in 2000,
he argued that his 1972 plea was not voluntary and intelligent because the
court had not advised him of all his
Boykin rights. His petition
was denied, and he did not appeal.
In 2001, Annes filed a successive petition for post-conviction relief, asserting the same
claim that he had raised during the case of the previous year.
The trial court denied the petition, and Annes appealed. The State continued
to argue the defenses of res judicata and laches. The Court of
Appeals held that res judicata did not apply because the issue litigated earlier
has never been considered by an appellate court.
Annes v. State, 767
N.E.2d 1051 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002). It also observed that it thought
Annes had received ineffective assistance of counsel during the first post-conviction proceeding, though
Annes had not made such a claim.
We grant transfer.
First, the doctrine of res judicata bars later suit when earlier suit resulted
in final judgment on merits, was based on proper jurisdiction, and involved the
same cause of action and same parties or privies as the later suit.
Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management v. Conard, 614 N.E.2d 916, 923 (Ind.
1993). That the trial courts judgment was not appealed is of no
Second, inasmuch as Annes did not plead or argue ineffective assistance of his
earlier post-conviction counsel, the issue was not before the trial court or the
Court of Appeals in the present case, and thus the State did not
have the chance to argue its position before the Court of Appeals ruled.
The real question in this case is whether Annes has established any recognized
grounds for avoiding res judicata. The bar of res judicata may sometimes
give way when the initial decision was clearly erroneous and would work manifest
State v. Lewis, 543 N.E.2d 1116, 1118 (Ind. 1989).
Whether the judgment of the original post-conviction court was erroneous or not, we are not persuaded that the outcome is manifestly unjust. When Annes stood charged with both possession and sale of LSD in 1972, his lawyer and the prosecution worked out a rather favorable plea agreement. The State agreed to dismiss the more serious charge of sale, and Annes agreed to plead guilty to possession. The State also agreed that Annes could undergo treatment rather than suffer a conviction and sentencing. Seven weeks later, Annes asked the court to be sentenced instead. The resulting sentence was itself relatively modest: one to ten years, suspended to two years probation. It was only after Annes violated the terms of his probation a few months later that the trial court revoked his probation and ordered him to serve an executed sentence.
To prevail against the States defense of res judicata, Annes must establish that
it is manifestly unjust not to re-open a thirty-year-old conviction from a proceeding
in which the prosecutor and the court afforded him multiple opportunities to avoid
conviction and punishment. We conclude that he has not met the standard.
Accordingly, we affirm the post-conviction court.
DICKSON, SULLIVAN, BOEHM, and RUCKER, JJ., concur.