As a general rule, there is a strong presumption in American law that a judge or jury properly weighed the evidence and decided a case. A fair amount of attention has been focused in the recent media on actions within court rooms that may have swayed a verdict. One is an attorney who appeared to yawn1 at a closing argument as if to dismiss it.
Generally, the first line of attack is to have counsel determine if this is harmless error—meaning it did not matter. If this is not the case, it may be that due process of law was not provided—a fundamental tenet of our legal system. This is among other things the right to be heard and have an impartial trial. Where this in doubt a direct appeal may be taken in Indiana within thirty days of a civil final order or sentencing to a higher court. If the error is known, failure to do so may result in waiver of this right.
When the error is determined later, a Motion to set aside the judgment under trial rule 60(B) or post conviction relief (in a criminal case) may be lodged. If the burden of proof is met, the judgment or conviction may be set aside.
Finally, in cases where loss of freedom is at issue—criminal matters—habeas corpus or belated appeals may be brought. These three remedies ensure that errors or trial strategies of attorneys or other later-discovered material facts and legal issues may not result in an unjust result. This is a hallmark of the American system. All are very complex legal forms or relief, as they should be because finality of a decision is also important.
This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle civil and criminal matters throughout the State of Indiana. It is intended to provide useful general information about the quality and integrity of the Indiana and American legal system—the envy of the world. It is not intended as specific legal advice or as a solicitation for legal services. This blog is advertising material in nature.