Thomas C. Hinesley
Deputy Public Defender
Deputy Public Defender
Attorneys for Appellee
Jeffrey A. Modisett
Attorney General of Indiana
Priscilla J. Fossum
Deputy Attorney General
Appellant (Petitioner below),
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee (Respondent below ).
) Supreme Court No.
First, Lambert argues that the post-conviction judge demonstrated disqualifying bias through the following
eight statements he made during the original trial: (1) This act clearly was
not the result of, or caused [by,] alcohol. This was the product
of a wicked mind; (2) The Defendants response was, in my judgment, indicative
of a very serious character defect manifested by one who is bent on
violence; (3) His act was totally and completely depraved; (4) [I]n this case,
for one so young to react so viciously and so violently is, I
think, evidence of a malignant character; (5) Even though the Defendant was only
twenty (20) years of age at the time of the act, he had
already become a ruthless individual without conscience, and without regard for the consequences
of his actions; (6) It seems to me that it takes a
special type of individual to deliberately kill a policeman. It takes a
person without respect for authority, for the law, or for human life itself;
(7) In the Courts judgment, the only possible mitigating circumstances in this tragic
affair are the age of the Defendant and the fact that, although not
likely, rehabilitation is always a possibility; (8) [T]his was an intentional and deliberate
execution. (Supplemental Record of Post-Conviction Proceedings at 1-3).
Under Post-Conviction Rule 1(4)(b),
See footnote a petitioner may request a change of judge by
filing an affidavit that the judge has a personal bias or prejudice against
the petitioner. The rule requires the judge to examine the affidavit, treat
the historical facts recited in the affidavit as true, and dete
rmine whether these
facts support a rational inference of bias or prejudice. State ex rel.
Whitehead v. Madison County Cir. Ct., 626 N.E.2d 802, 803 (Ind. 1993).
[A] change of judge is neither automatic nor discretionary, [but] calls for a
legal determination by the trial court. Sturgeon v. State, 719 N.E.2d 1173,
1181 (Ind. 1999). However, we presume that a judge is not biased
against a party. See Taylor v. State, 587 N.E.2d 1293, 1303 (Ind.
1992). Cf. In re Adoption of Johnson, 612 N.E.2d 569, 572 (Ind. Ct.
App. 1993) (Judges are credited with the ability to remain objective notwithstanding their
having been exposed to information which might tend to prejudice lay persons.), transfer
Under the rule, the post-conviction court is disqualified from hearing a case only if the judge holds a personal bias or prejudice. Ind. Post-Conviction Rule 1(4)(b) (emphasis added). Typically, a bias is personal if it stems from an extrajudicial source meaning a source separate from the evidence and argument presented at the proceedings. See, e.g., Noble v. State, 725 N.E.2d 842, 847-49 (Ind. 2000) (Generally, a trial judges exposure to evidence through judicial sources is, alone, insufficient to establish bias.) (emphasis added); Sturgeon, 719 N.E.2d at 1181-82 (Ind. 1999) (same). Cf. Harrison v. State, 707 N.E.2d 767, 790 (Ind. 1999) (A trial courts adverse rulings on judicial matters do not indicate a personal bias toward a defendant that calls into question the trial courts impartiality.), cert. denied, 529 U.S. 1088 (2000). As the United States Supreme Court noted in interpreting a federal rule similar to our own: See footnote
The judge who presides at a trial may, upon the completion of the evidence, be e xceedingly illdisposed towards the defendant, who has been shown to be a thoroughly reprehensible person. But the judge is not thereby recusable for bias or prejudice, since his knowledge and the opinion it produced were properly and necessarily acquired in the course of the proceedings, and are indeed sometimes (as in a bench trial) necessary to completion of the judges task. ... Impartiality is not gullibility. Disinterestedness does not mean child-like innocence. If the judge did not form judgments of the actors in those court-house dramas called trials, he could never render decisions. Also not subject to deprecatory characterizations as bias or prejudice are opinions held by judges as a result of what they learned in earlier proceedings.
Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 550-51 (1994) (emphasis added) (citations omitted). See footnote
This case closely resembles
Hollins v. State, where we upheld a murder conviction
despite similar judicial statements during sentencing:
A trial judges comments [during sentencing] necessarily reflect the evidence he or she hears during the trial. Trial judges may consider the conduct and attitude of the d efendant when imposing sentence. In fact, most of the above comments stem from the considerations mandated by Indianas sentencing statute. In view of the nature and circumstances of the defendant and the crimes, the trial judges comments on the coldness of the defendant, his lack of remorse, and his proclivity to kill again were entirely consistent with the considerations required to be taken into account by the judge in determining the defendants sentence. The comments do not reflect disqualifying personal bias or prejudice against the defendant.
679 N.E.2d 1305, 1307 (Ind. 1997) (emphasis in original).
The statements made during Lamberts sentencing were part of the judges judicial function and did not stem from an extrajudicial source. See, e.g., Noble, 725 N.E.2d at 847-49. The trial courts probing of Lamberts character and the circumstances of his crime was unavoidable. The Eighth Amendment requires a judge to make an individualized determination on the basis of the character of the individual and the circumstances of the crime before imposing a sentence of death. Zant v. Stephens, 462 U.S. 862, 879 (1983) (emphasis in original). The fact that the judge used emotional language See footnote in describing Lamberts character and crime does not demonstrate personal bias or prejudice outside of the judicial function.
Second, Lambert contends that the post-conviction judge was unable to make impartial fin
of fact or conclusions of law in regards to his claims relating to
the presence of uniformed, armed police officers during trial and sentencing. He
argues that the post-conviction judge could not sit as a neutral factfinder because
his personal views of what occurred in his courtroom [at trial] destroyed his
ability to receive evidence on that very subject in a detached fashion.
His recollection could not be tested by the adversarial process. Appellants Br.
at 88. Lambert does not explain why the post-conviction courts personal views
concerning officers in the trial courtroom would impermissibly bias his ability to receive
evidence on post-conviction review. We see no reason why the post-conviction judges
personal views towards the police officer claims would affect his impartiality more than
any other claim that relates to events at trial. Taking Lamberts arguments
on this point to their logical extreme would mean that a judge who
tries the original case could not sit as the judge of a collateral
proceeding because his personal view of what occurred in his courtroom [would have]
destroyed his ability to receive evidence on that very subject. Appellants Br.
at 88. We rejected such a per se approach to motions for
a change of judge in State ex rel. Whitehead v. Madison County Circuit
Court, 626 N.E.2d 802, 803 (Ind. 1993), and we reaffirm that holding here.
See also State ex rel. Rondon v. Lake Superior Court, Criminal Div.
Two, 569 N.E.2d 635, 636 (Ind. 1991) (DeBruler, J. dissenting) (The rule rejects
the proposition that there should be an automatic change of venue in post-conviction
Lambert is not entitled to a change of judge simply because
the post-conviction judge presided over the original trial and sentencing.
A substantial number of the errors Lambert asserts were committed by his counsel
are claims that counsel did not interpose certain objections or failed to tender
certain jury instru
ctions. In almost all of these situations, the post-conviction court
made findings of fact from which it concluded that the objection in question
would have been overruled or the instruction in question would have been refused.
As discussed in greater detail supra, we will reverse a post-conviction courts
decision as being contrary to law only where the evidence is without conflict
and leads to but one conclusion, and the post-conviction court has reached the
opposite conclusion. Miller v. State, 702 N.E.2d 1053, 1057-58 (Ind. 1998), rehg
Given this standard of review, once a post-conviction court makes findings of fact
from which it concludes that an objection would have been overruled or an
instruction would have been refused, we first examine whether the evidence supports the
findings of fact. If it does, then the post-conviction courts conclusion will
be reversed only if those findings dictate that under applicable law, the objection
was required to be sustained or instruction required to be given. So
long as under applicable law, the trial court could have overruled the objection
or refused the instruction, the post-conviction courts conclusion that the trial court would
have done so will be affirmed.
The post-conviction court made certain findings of fact from which it concluded that
trial counsels performance was not deficient for failing to object to the officers
because such an objection would have been overruled. Appellants Appendix at 60
(Counsel need not have moved for excl
usion of uniformed police officers from the
courtroom because the officers had a right to be present and their presence
did not render the proceeding fundamentally unfair or the result inherently unreliable.).
The post-conviction court found that: (1) There were uniformed Muncie Police officers present
among the spectators in the gallery during trial, but counsel made no objection
to their presence; (2) [Trial counsel] remembers that the audience was usually about
1/4th police officers, though other evidence indicates that the number of uniformed officers
exceeded twenty during the penalty phase and sentencing; (3) The layout of the
courtroom shows that while seated in the jury box, jurors had their backs
to the officers in the gallery and were even separated from the gallery
by a half-wall and a transparent glass shield that rose up above that
half-wall; (4) The officers did not brandish their weapons or engage in any
other threatening gestures to the jury or judge. Appellants Appendix at 15-16.
There was evidence to support the post-conviction courts findings of fact. Lambert intr oduced a videotape and diagram of the courtroom demonstrating that the room is as described by the post-conviction court. Lamberts lead trial counsel also described the room as containing a glass barrier between the jury and the spectators. He compared the glass barrier to one found in a hockey rink and testified that it would [p]resumably ... keep any noise from the gallery from affecting the jury. (Id.) He also testified that the jurors faced away from the audience so that once the jury was seated, they did not have a view of the gallery ... . (R.P-C.R. at 1254.) He testified that he could not recall any disruptions by the officers and Lamberts second counsel testified that the officers did not brandish or show off their weapons. The second counsel also testified that the officers typically composed a quarter to a third of the audience and that six to eight officers attended the trial on most days, with the number rising to about fifteen during important phases of the trial.
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an
opposite conclusion than that reached by the post-conviction court. When an ineffective
assistance of counsel claim is based on trial counsels failure to make an
objection, the appellant must show that a proper objection would have been sustained
by the trial court.
Lloyd v. State, 669 N.E.2d 980, 985 (Ind.
1996). Because the post-conviction courts conclusion that the trial court would have
overruled an objection to the presence of the officers was supported by the
evidence, we will uphold the post-conviction court if the trial court could have
overruled the objection under applicable law. That is, we will reverse the
post-conviction court only if the trial court was compelled as a matter of
law to sustain an objection. We have repeatedly held that control over
spectators in a courtroom is a matter of trial court discretion. See,
e.g., Hill v. State, 497 N.E.2d 1061, 1067 (Ind. 1986) (The trial judge
has discretion to determine whether the defendant has been prejudiced by a spectators
conduct.); Dudley v. State, 480 N.E.2d 881, 901 (Ind. 1985) (finding no abuse
of discretion for trial courts refusal to grant a mistrial because of the
presence of uniformed police officers during juror examination); Palmer v. State, 153 Ind.
App. 648, 667, 288 N.E.2d 739, 751 (1972) (The court has wide discretion
in determining whether a party litigant has been prejudiced by ... an atmosphere
created by spectators in the courtroom and it is solely within his province
and his duty to determine if the party has been prejudiced ... .)
(emphasis added). As such, the trial court here had latitude to decide
whether to restrict the officers appearance. We cannot say that the trial
judge would have abused that discretion as a matter of law by denying
a motion to restrict the officers. The judge had already granted Lamberts
motions to prohibit any signs of mourning in the courtroom. The jurors
were aware that the trial focused on the murder of a police officer
and likely would have expected the victims fellow officers to follow the trial.
See, e.g., Smith v. Farley, 59 F.3d 659, 664 (7th Cir. 1995)
Of course if you kill a policemen and are put on trial for
the crime, you must expect the courtroom audience to include policemen ... .);
Brown v. State, 256 Ind. 444, 446, 269 N.E.2d 377, 378 (1971)
All citizens are well aware of the fact that many officers wear uniforms
and carry arms. Their presence in court rooms is a common occurrence.
We know of no manner in which it could be determined whether
the fact they are in uniform helps, hinders or is of no consequence
to the States case.)
. The record demonstrates that the jurors faced away
from the gallery during testimony and argument.
And there is no evidence
of a directed effort to prejudice the jury or of any disturbance by
the police officers. Cf. Smith, 59 F.3d at 664 (
Efforts by spectators
at a trial to intimidate judge, jury, or witnesses violate the most elementary
principles of a fair trial.) (citations omitted).
Because the trial court could
have denied a motion to restrict the officers, the post-conviction court could properly
find that Lambert was not denied the effective assistance of counsel on this
Second, Lambert argues that counsel should have objected to the admission of photographs
of the victim with family members. The post-conviction court concluded that the
propriety of victim-impact evidence was decided on direct appeal and may not be
relitigated in this proceeding. The claim of prosecutor misconduct involving a photo
of the victims family is
res judicata as it is encompassed within the
decided issue. Appellants Appendix at 43-44. We agree that these photographs were
part of the victim impact evidence that our rehearing opinion held was inadmissible.
Lambert v. State, 675 N.E.2d 1060, 1064 (Ind. 1996). In our
rehearing opinion, we specifically referred to at least one of the photographs in
describing what the impermissible victim impact evidence was: [Molly Winters] was permitted to
lay a foundation for admission into evidence of a photo of the family
taken the previous Christmas. Id. at 1062. While, as Lambert notes, the
actual photos were not included in the trial record because of their size,
our rehearing opinion reflects our acknowledgement of these photographs and our inclusion of
them under the rubric of victim impact evidence. As such, we have
already determined that these photographs should not have been admitted during the penalty
phase. We then reweighed the aggravating and mitigating circumstances and upheld the
death sentence. Id. These issues were thus fully litigated on direct appeal
and rehearing. We affirm the post-conviction courts determination that res judicata bars
Appellants Appendix at 63 (citations omitted).
See also Appellants Appendix at 68
(Because the prosecutors closing argument in the penalty and sentencing hearings was proper ... counsel need not have objected or sought curative measures.). Viewed in the respective contexts in which the prosecutors comments were made, we conclude that the post-conviction courts findings support these conclusions.
First, the post-conviction court made certain findings of fact from which it concluded that trial counsels performance was not deficient for failing to object to fourteen different derogatory and inflammatory references to Lambert made by the prosecutor. Appellants Br. at 56. The post-conviction court concluded that trial counsel were not ineffective because an objection to these comments would not have been successful. Appellants Appendix at 63, 68. (The [prosecutors] argument was appropriate.) The post-conviction court found that the prosecutors closing argument included characterizations of Lambert as an assassin and executioner and of his crime as cold-blooded and ruthless, etc. One theme of the prosecutors argument was that Lambert intentionally murdered Officer Winters ... . Appellants Appendix at 8-9.
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an opposite conclusion than that reached by the post-conviction court. As a general proposition, the prosecutor must confine closing argument to comments based upon the evidence presented in the record. The prosecutor may argue both law and facts and propound conclusions based upon his or her analysis of the evidence. Marsillett, 495 N.E.2d at 708. Each of these comments was based on specific evidence in the record and an objection would not have been sustained even if counsel had made one. See Brennan v. State, 639 N.E.2d 649, 652-53 (Ind. 1994) (rejecting ineffective assistance of counsel claim for trial counsels failure to object when the prosecutor called defendant a cold-blooded killer during argument). For example, Lambert contends that the prosecutor committed misconduct by calling him an assassin and gutless. (R. at 5791.) However, these comments arose when the prosecutor questioned Lamberts level of intoxication and argued that Lambert intended to kill Winters. In this context, the prosecutor contrasted Lamberts shooting of the defenseless Winters with his acquiescence to Kirk Mace, the arresting officer:
This wasnt an act of pulling a gun out. It was calculated, thought-out, intentional maneuver to put the gun to the back of Greggs head. It was not a random pulling out of a gun and shooting.
Well, if hes able to do this, why doesnt he shoot Kirk Mace. He didnt shoot Kirk Mace because Kirk Mace never turned his back on him. He is truly the assassin. He is gutless. Kirk Mace was facing him. He didnt have the guts to take on Kirk Mace.
Id.) (emphasis added). For these reasons, the trial court could properly have
overruled a defense objection to the prosecutors statements. Moreover, Lamberts defense counsel
could have reasonably decided that objecting to these individual negative comments, which were
interspersed at different places in the argument, would draw undue attention to them.
This choice was a reasonable strategic decision. See Monegan v. State,
721 N.E.2d 243, 254 (Ind. 1999) (finding a reasonable strategic decision not to
object to prosecutors statement that [I] guess he gets high off of hurting
people and killing people; [C]ounsel could well have decided to let these brief
references pass. In such circumstances, we cannot conclude that Defendant received ineffective
assistance of counsel.).
Second, the post-conviction court made certain findings of fact from which it concluded that trial counsels performance was not deficient for failing to object to comments disparaging Lamberts defense strategy and suggesting he lacked remorse. Again, the post-conviction court concluded that the trial court would not have sustained an objection. Appellants Appendix at 63, 68. To support this conclusion, the court found that the prosecutors argument was that ... [Lambert] was not being truthful about what he remembered of the shooting, that the defense experts opinion was based on Lamberts self-serving recollection of events and that the jury should not, therefore, believe the defense. Appellants Appendix at 9.
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an opposite conclusion than that reached by the post-conviction court. When an ineffective assistance of counsel claim is predicated on counsels failure to make an objection, appellant must show that a proper objection would have been sustained by the trial court. Jones v. State, 536 N.E.2d 267, 272 (Ind. 1989). The trial court could have overruled an objection to the comments Lambert contests. The prosecutor used the comments to make his case against Lamberts witnesses and their credibility. For example, the remark that Lamberts testimony was self-serving, convenient, and unbelievable (R. at 5754) was made as the prosecutor attacked Lamberts memory loss and argued that he intended to kill Winters. Placed in context, these comments were argument based on the facts in evidence. See footnote Moreover, defense counsel could reasonably have decided to let these brief references pass. Monegan, 721 N.E.2d at 254. The trial court would have been within its discretion to overrule an objection to these comments.
Third, the post-conviction court made certain findings of fact from which it concluded that trial counsels performance was not deficient for failing to object when the prosecutor said that Lambert called Winters just a pig. See footnote The post-conviction court concluded that the trial court would not have sustained an objection. Appellants Appendix at 63, 68. To support this conclusion, the court found that a witness testified that when he asked Lambert how he could just take a life, Lambert r esponded, It was just a pig. Appellants Appendix at 7.
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an opposite conclusion than that reached by the post-conviction court. Here, the prosecutor quoted directly from the witnesss testimony and the prosecutor used the comment in the context of describing Lamberts intent to kill. An objection to this comment need not have been sustained.
Fourth, the post-conviction court made certain findings of fact from which it concluded that trial counsels performance was not deficient for failing to object to the prosecutors reference to Lamberts laughter during the trial. See footnote The post-conviction court concluded that trial counsel could have made reasonable strategic decisions not to object during closing argument. Appellants Appe ndix at 63. The findings, while not specifically mentioning Lamberts laughter, refer to the prosecutors arguments that Lambert lacked remorse and that Lambert had not apologized ... . Appellants Appendix at 9.
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an opposite conclusion than that reached by the post-conviction court. This comment was an isolated occurrence and Lamberts counsel could reasonably have decided not to draw undue attention to it. See Conner v. State, 711 N.E.2d 1238, 1250 (Ind. 1999) (By choosing not to object to ... the States closing argument, defense counsel avoided drawing attention to testimony or argument unfavorable to the defendant. This was a legitimate strategy.), cert. denied, 121 S.Ct. 81 (2000). As part of this tactical decision, Lamberts counsel worked the laughter into his attempts to humanize Lambert during sentencing: [Y]ou have seen Mike maybe smile just as you people have smiled from time to time. You have seen him cry just as you have cried from time to time. Its because hes a human being. Hes got feelings . (R. at 5975.)
Fifth, the post-conviction court made certain findings of fact from which it concluded that trial counsels performance was not deficient for failing to object to the prosecutors statement that Winters struggled for eleven days. The post-conviction court concluded that the trial court would not have sustained an objection. Appellants Appendix at 63, 68. The post-conviction court found that the prosecutor also pointed out ... that Officer Winters was a family man who did not have a chance to defend himself but who struggled for 11 days after being shot. Appellants Appendix at 9.
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an opposite conclusion than that reached by the post-conviction court. The comment arose in the context of the prosecutors argument to the jury that Lamberts actions caused Winterss death. The prosecutor was required to prove causation and as such this statement was proper argument.
Sixth, the post-conviction court made certain findings of fact from which it concluded that trial counsels performance was not deficient for failing to object to the prosecutors penalty phase reference to the presence of uniformed, armed police officers and to his recitation of a poem that paid tribute to slain police officers. The post-conviction court concluded that the trial court would not have sustained an objection. Appellants Appendix at 63, 68. To support this conclusion, the post-conviction court found that
The prosecutor urged that killing a law enforcement officer is an aggravating factor entitled to great weight because of the important societal interest in protecting police, and that a person who kills an officer is particularly dangerous. In support of his argument, the prosecutor quoted from then-Justice Rehnquists opinion in Roberts v. Louisiana discussing the importance of protecting police officers. The prosecutor closed the opening portion of his penalty phase argument by reciting a poem about the death of a police officer.
Appellants Appendix at 12 (citations omitted). The post-conviction court also found that
the prosecutor struck a theme that likened police officers to soldiers at war.
But this comment followed the Rehnquist quotation, which describes policemen as foot
soldiers of societys defense of ordered liberty, as well as defense counsels own
description of police officers as soldiers ... . Appellants Appendix at 12-13.
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an opposite conclusion than that reached by the post-conviction court. The poem and the comments on the police officers presence were linked to the prosecutors penalty phase case. These arguments stemmed from the prosecutors burden to show that the sole aggravator the killing of a police officer in the line of duty outweighed Lamberts mitigating evidence. As part of his effort to strengthen this aggravator, the prosecutor could be expected to make arguments based on the unique duties and dangers inherent in police work. Cf. Smith v. Farley, 59 F.3d 659, 664 (7th Cir. 1995) ([W] e cannot say that this single, ambiguous sentence in a long closing argument created an atmosphere of intimidation merely because of the presence of some policemen in the courtroom as spectators.). While these comments pushed the bounds of zealous advocacy, See footnote the trial court was not required to su stain an objection to them. See footnote
Seventh, the post-conviction court made certain findings of fact from which it concluded that trial counsels performance was not deficient for failing to object to what Lambert characterizes as the prosecutors suggestion that the aggravator of killing a police officer always overrides mitigating ev idence. As previously mentioned, the post-conviction found that the prosecutor urged that killing a law enforcement officer is an aggravating factor entitled to great weight because of the important societal interest in protecting police, and that a person who kills an officer is particularly dangerous. Appellants Appendix at 12.
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an opposite conclusion than that reached by the post-conviction court. First, while Lamberts argument here is essentially that the prosecutor misstated the law that in every case, this aggravating circumstance will override any and all mitigating evidence - it is not at all clear that that was the prosecutors argument. It is equally susceptible to a reading that the killing of the police officer here overrode the mitigating evidence presented here. Second, defense counsel may make a reasonable strategic choice to not object to a comment made during closing argument in order to avoid drawing undue attention to the comment. See Conner, 711 N.E.2d at 1250 (By choosing not to object to the States closing argument, defense counsel avoided drawing attention to testimony or argument unfavorable to the defendant. This was a legitimate strategy.). This comment was a brief passage in an otherwise lengthy argument. It would have been reasonable for counsel to choose not to draw undue attention to it, especially since the jury instructions and defense counsels own argument undercut the force of the comment. See footnote
Finally, the post-conviction court made certain findings of fact from which it concluded that trial counsels performance was not deficient for failing to object when the prosecutor made a reference to Lamberts juvenile delinquency adjudication and juvenile crimes. The post-conviction court concluded that the trial court would not have sustained an objection. Appellants Appendix at 63, 68. The post-conviction court found that the prosecutor referred to Lamberts delinquency adjudication, but Lambert himself had presented evidence of his childhood generally and his delinquency adjudication specifically. Appellants Appendix at 12 (citations omitted).
Our review of the record indicates that there was evidence to support the post-conviction courts findings of fact. The record reflects that when Lambert was a minor he was adjudicated to be a juvenile delinquent because of a burglary in Farmland, Indiana, and was also convicted of underage drinking. Although the trial court had earlier ruled that the State could not introduce this evidence, Lambert presented it during his penalty phase case. Lambert argued that the fact that he had no significant criminal history was a mitigating circumstance to the imposition of a death sentence.
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an
opposite conclusion than that reached by the post-conviction court. The prosecutor only
used this evidence to rebut the mitigator of no significant criminal history.
An objection to it need not have been sustained.
We note as an initial matter that the post-conviction court concluded that even
nsel tendered these instructions, the trial court would not have given them.
If we find that this conclusion was supported by the evidence, we
will uphold the post-conviction court if the trial court could have properly refused
the instruction under applicable law. That is, we will reverse the post-conviction
court only if the trial court was compelled as a matter of law
to give the instruction. [F]ailure to submit an instruction is not
deficient performance if the court would have refused the instruction anyway. Williams v.
State, 706 N.E.2d 149, 161 (Ind. 1999), cert. denied, 120 S. Ct. 1970
(2000). A trial court may not accept a tendered instruction
unless it correctly states the law, is supported by evidence in the record,
and is not covered by other instructions. See Sherwood v. State, 702
N.E.2d 694, 698 (Ind. 1998), rehg denied; Sweany v. State, 607 N.E.2d 387,
389 (Ind. 1993). Under this standard, we affirm the post-conviction courts conclusion
that trial counsel would not have obtained these instructions even if they had
First, the post-conviction court made certain findings of fact from which it concluded
that trial counsels performance was not deficient for failing to offer a missing
evidence instruction in regards to the fact that the State never presented a
videotape of Lamberts statement to the police. The post-conviction court concluded that
the trial court would not have given this instruction even if counsel sought
it. Appellants Appendix at 49, 63-64. To support this conclusion, the
post-conviction court found that [t]he statement was typed but not videotaped by police.
Appellants Appendix at 3.
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an opposite conclusion than that counsel were not deficient for not seeking this instruction. Parties are not entitled to an i nstruction that is not supported by the evidence. See Sherwood, 702 N.E.2d at 698. Because there was no evidence that a videotape existed, Lamberts counsel were not deficient for failing to offer the instruction. We affirm the post-conviction courts conclusion that the trial court would not have granted this instruction.
Second, the post-conviction court made certain findings of fact from which it concluded that trial counsels performance was not deficient for failing to seek an instruction for the jury to spend special care in weighing witness Richard Garskes credibility. See footnote The post-conviction court concluded that this instruction was not supported by the law and would not have been given even if sought by trial counsel: It would have been inappropriate for the courts instruction to single out the testimony of a particular witness for special scrutiny. Appellants Appendix at 51, 63-64. The post-conviction court also found that the trial court instructed the jury that in assessing a witnesss testimony, they could consider any interest, bias or prejudice the witness may have and any relationship the witness may have with other witness or interested party. Appellants Appendix at 10.
The trial court in fact gave a general instruction on assessing the credibility of witnesses.
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an opposite conclusion than that reached by the post-conviction court. Counsels performance is not deficient for failing to seek an instruction that the trial court would and could deny. See Legue v. State, 688 N.E.2d 408, 410-11 (Ind. 1997). A defendant is not entitled to an instruction that incorrectly applies the law. See Sherwood, 702 N.E.2d at 698. We agree with the post-conviction court that the proposed instruction runs counter to the law, and therefore the trial court could properly deny it. We have repeatedly rejected claims of error for refusal to instruct jurors that they are required to consider the testimony of certain witnesses with great care or caution. Noojin v. State, 730 N.E.2d 672, 678 (Ind. 2000). See also Goudy v. State, 689 N.E.2d 686, 696 (Ind. 1997) (upholding trial courts refusal of instruction that advised the jury to give special scrutiny to the testimony of those who may have reason to be hostile to defendant.); Bieghler v. State, 690 N.E.2d 188, 201 (Ind. 1997) (Indiana common law holds it improper to give an instruction concerning the credibility of a particular witness because doing so usurps the jurys function. In effect, Bieghler says his lawyers have been constitutionally ineffective for not asking us to change the rules.).
Third, the post-conviction court made certain findings of fact from which it concluded that trial counsels performance was not deficient for failing to seek an instruction stating that the vide otaped demonstration did not depict Lamberts mental state or sobriety at the time of the shooting. The post-conviction court concluded that counsels performance was not defective because the trial court would not have granted this instruction even if counsel sought it. Appellants Appendix at 63-64.
The trial court gave a general instruction on how to analyze testimony and
You are the exclusive judges of the evidence, the credibility of the witnesses and of the weight to be given to the testimony of each of them. In considering the te stimony of any witness, you may take into account his or her ability and opportunity to observe, the manner and the conduct of the witness while testifying, any interest, bias, or prejudice the witness may have, any relationship with other witnesses or interested parties, and the reasonableness of the testimony of the witness considered in the light of all the evidence in the case.
In weighing the testimony to determine what or whom you will believe, you should use your own knowledge, and experience and common sense gained from day to day living. ...
(R. at 5799-800) (emphasis added).
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an
opposite conclusion than that reached by the post-conviction court. The post-conviction court
concluded that the trial court would not have given this instruction even if
trial counsel sought it. We will reverse this co
nclusion only if the
evidence does not support it or the trial court was required to grant
the instruction. A trial court is not required to grant an instruction that
is covered by other instructions. See Sherwood, 702 N.E.2d at 698.
The proposed instruction here did precisely what the trial courts general instruction did
limit the jurys use of evidence to its logical purpose and prevent
the jury from drawing illogical inferences. It encouraged the jurors to use
their knowledge, experience, and common sense in examining the evidence, and basic reason
would lead them to conclude that the demonstration only showed that it was
possible to pull out a gun with arms handcuffed behind the back.
Lamberts suggested instruction is covered by this more general instruction. See Sherwood,
702 N.E.2d at 698.
As a final claim on instructions, Lambert also argues that his counsel were ineffective for fai ling to oppose one of the trial courts instructions on the presumption of innocence. This instruction read: In clothing those charged with crime with the presumption of innocence, the law does not contemplate that thereby the guilty should be shielded from merited punishment. Its object is to protect the innocent so far as human agencies can from the effects of unjust verdicts. (R. at 5797.) The post-conviction court concluded that the trial court would not have sustained an objection to this instruction even if trial counsel interposed one. Appellants Appendix at 64.
The post-conviction court found that, along with the contested instruction, the trial court also instructed the jury that the presumption of innocence is designed to protect the innocent and to require the State prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before conviction, not to shield the guilty from merited punishment. Appellants Appendix at 10.
At Lamberts trial, the court instructed the jury that
the Defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And this presumption prevails until the conclusion of the trial, and you should weigh the evidence in light of this presumption of innocence, and it should be your endeavor to reconcile all the evidence with the presumption of innocence if you can.
(R. at 5795-96.)
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an opposite conclusion than that reached by the post-conviction court. In order to establish that counsels failure to object to a jury instruction was ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must first prove that a proper objection would have been sustained. Potter v. State, 684 N.E.2d 1127, 1132 (Ind. 1997). Moreover, Lambert must prove that the failure to object was unreasonable and resulted in sufficient prejudice such that there exists a reasonable probability the outcome would have been different had counsel leveled an objection. Id. Lambert argues that his counsel should have objected because he characterizes Spradlin v. State, 569 N.E.2d 948 (Ind. 1991), as holding that trial judges could not instruct juries in this manner. Appellants Br. at 66. (emphasis added). However, Spradlin recommended that judges refrain from using this type of instruction. 569 N.E.2d at 951 ( Such instruction adds little, if any, elucidation for the jury. We recommend that it not be used in future cases.) (emphasis added). We did not reverse Spradlins conviction on this ground. See id. See also Matney v. State, 681 N.E.2d 1152 (Ind. Ct. App. 1997) ( The Spradlin court did not, however, hold that the giving of the instruction constituted reversible error.), transfer denied.
The instruction given here was misleading and we reiterate that such instructions should not be used. Indeed, had counsel objected, the trial court should have sustained the objection. However, even if counsels performance was deficient in this regard, we do not reach a conclusion different from the post-conviction courts as to whether Lambert was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. To warrant relief, Lambert must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsels unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine the confidence in the outcome. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88, 694 (1984).
We hold that this instruction does not compel us to vacate Lamberts conviction
reasons. First, the outcome of the trial was not likely
to be different without this instruction, as the evidence of Lamberts guilt was
overwhelming. Lambert was alone in the backseat of Officer Winterss car when
the officer was shot in the back of the head. He was
found with a gun that had been stolen from his employer and tests
revealed traces of gunpowder residue on his body. Second, we have held
that to establish both deficient performance and resulting prejudice, a petitioner must show
more than isolated poor strategy, bad tactics, a mistake, carelessness or inexperience; the
defense as a whole must be inadequate. Miller v. State, 702 N.E.2d 1053,
1059 (Ind. 1998) (emphasis in original), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1083 (2000). See
also Kimmelman v. Morrison, 477 U.S. 365, 386, (1986) ([S]ince there are countless
ways to provide effective assistance in any given case, unless consideration is given
to counsels overall performance, before and at trial, it will be all too
easy for a court, examining counsels defense after it has proved unsuccessful, to
conclude that a particular act or omission of counsel was unreasonable.) (emphasis added)
(quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689). Counsels isolated error here did
not warrant vacation of Lamberts conviction in the face of the significant overall
adversarial testing to which counsel subjected the States case.
The post-conviction court concluded that Lamberts trial counsel made a reasonable strategic decision
not to pursue this evidence of mental disorders because it both conflicted with
counsels mitigation strategy and was not credible. Appellants Appendix at 34, 62.
The court concluded that:
Counsel also competently presented available mitigation evidence Lamberts intox ication, family evidence, his alleged good character, his unfortunate marriage and his relationship with his son in an attempt to convince the jury that Lambert had had a difficult life and had murdered the officer at a time of great stress and intoxication but that his life was worth saving, he was capable of rehabilitation, and he was not as dangerous as his crime suggested.
Appellants Appendix at 64. The post-conviction court also concluded that this mental
idence was either inconsistent with, or incredible, in light of mitigation evidence
he offered and would have risked bolstering the States theory of the case,
would have undermined the reasonable mitigation strategy adopted by trial counsel and would
not have resulted in a more lenient sentence. Appellants Appendix at 34-36.
The post-conviction court made certain findings of fact from which it concluded that trial counsels performance in this regard was not deficient. To establish the existence of these disorders at the post-conviction stage, Lambert presented the testimony of a neuropsychologist, Dr. Edmund Haskins, and a clinical psychologist, Dr. Robert Smith. See footnote The post-conviction court found that the testimony of both witnesses was worth little weight in light of counsels mitigation strategy. The post-conviction court found that the value of Dr. Haskinss testimony was questionable because: (1) The diagnosis conflicts with the reports of two court-appointed psychologists who assessed Lamberts competency to stand trial for the stabbing of another inmate; (2) Neither [Haskins or Smith] found Lambert to suffer from any mental impairment; (3) Dr. Haskins admitted that his evaluation tested only Lamberts current level of neuropsychological functioning, not his past fun ctioning; and (4) Dr. Haskins also testified that people with personality disorders like Lamberts tend to be self-centered, manipulative, unaware of the effects of their behavior on others, and go through cycles of acting out a portrait that conflicts with the good guy image the defense presented at trial and sentencing. The post-conviction court also gave little weight to Dr. Smiths testimony because (1) Dr. Smith admitted that the results of the alcohol and substance abuse tests depended upon Lamberts veracity and depended on the setting in which they were administered; (2) He admitted that he failed to consult sources of information not provided to him by Lamberts counsel ... sources that showed Lambert was not significantly impaired on the night of the murder; (3) Dr. Smith explained that people with antisocial personality disorder have a disregard for societys rules and values and seldom remorse a portrait that conflicts with the remorseful image Lambert and his counsel sought to present at sentencing. Appellants Appendix at 25.
There was evidence to support the post-conviction courts findings of fact. Both doctors testified to the various mental disorders that the post-conviction court described. The record contains evidence that supports the post-conviction courts determination that the doctors testimony relied in large part on what Lambert and his counsel told them and conflicted with what other mental health professionals had found during the earlier competency evaluation. Moreover, trial counsels post-conviction testimony established that their penalty phase theory relied on the intoxication, his history, family history, [but] primarily the intoxication. According to counsel, they attempted to emphasize two things during the penalty phase: [O]ne of our main thrusts at mitigation [was] again the level of intoxication and the genetic alcohol profile. ... The other was to supplement that with some explanation as to Mikes background, what may have led him from where he had been to where he was.
Our review of the post-conviction courts findings does not lead us to an opposite conclusion than that reached by the post-conviction court. We have held that counsel may make a reasonable tactical decision to humanize a capital defendant as an alternate strategy to presenting similar mental health evidence. See Conner v. State, 711 N.E.2d 1238, 12451 (Ind. 1999), cert. denied, 121 S. Ct. 81 (2000). In Conner, the defendant argued that trial counsel failed to conduct a reasonable penalty phase investigation, to provide the jury with any meaningful explanation of the crimes, and to present available mitigating evidence of the defendants childhood traumas, mental disabilities, and intoxication. Id. This Court rejected Conners claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, noting that:
The record indicates that in the penalty and sentencing phases defense counsels stra tegy was to humanize the defendant, an appropriate strategic decision. Defense counsel presented opening and closing arguments and testimony from several witnesses in order to present evidence of the defendants background, including alcohol, drug, and family problems, his relationships, his good qualities, his employment history, and his relatively minor criminal history. ...
Id. (emphasis added). Cf. Meredith v. State, 679 N.E.2d 1309, 1312 (Ind. 1997)
(Appellants counsel had no reason ... to raise the issue of mental capacity.
In fact, arguing that Appellant lacked the mental capacity to form the
requisite intent would have been contrary to Appellants claim Appellant contended that
he did not do the crime, not that he did not intend to
do the crime.).
We find the evidence supports the post-conviction courts finding that counsel made a similar strategic decision here. Counsels penalty phase case portrayed Lambert as an inherently decent person who committed an admittedly horrible crime during the throes of severe intoxication and familial stress. To this end, trial counsel called a number of witnesses, including: (1) Lamberts former employer, who testified that Lamberts crime was out of his character and if Lambert was not going to prison he would rehire him despite the fact that Lambert had stolen the murder weapon from the employers office; (2) Lamberts mother, who testified about Lamberts violent childhood and his close relationship with his then two-year-old son; See footnote (3) the sons former foster parent, who testified that Lambert had an especially tender relationship with his son so that the sons little eyes would light up and he was just real happy whenever Lambert visited (R. at 5916); (4) an expert in toxicology, who testified that Lamberts alcoholism and level of intoxication clouded his a ctions on the night of the killing; (5) several ministers and employees from the jails where Lambert was being held, who testified to his amiable demeanor and caring attitude; and (6) a jailer who testified that Lambert spoke with the teenaged nephew of a police officer to encourage the boy to stay out of trouble.
Precedent supports the post-conviction courts conclusion that it was reasonable for counsel to
emphasize Lamberts character and not use or rely on complicated mental health evidence
that the post-conviction court found to have questionable weight. See, e.g., Canaan
v. State, 683 N.E.2d 227, 234 (Ind. 1997) (Counsel is permitted to make
strategic judgments not to present certain types of mitigating evidence, including evidence of
defendants background.); Timberlake v. State, 690 N.E.2d 243, 261 (Ind. 1997) (As a
matter of trial strategy, a defense counsel in a capital case may decide
what is the best argument to present during the penalty phase.), cert. denied,
525 U.S. 1073 (1999).
Lambert counters the post-conviction courts conclusion by arguing that counsels tactical choice was not reasonable because it was not supported by sufficient investigation. [I]n order to make a reasonable tactical decision, counsel must have adequately investigated the clients case because strategic choices made after less than complete investigation are reasonable precisely to the extent that reasonable professional judgments support the limitations on investigation. State v. Holmes, 728 N.E.2d 164, 172 (Ind. 2000) (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 690-91), petition for cert. filed, (U.S. Jan. 29, 2001) (No. 00-8381).
Here, as will be discussed, counsel did undertake an investigation of Lamberts mental health. Thus the legal question we are presented with is whether trial counsels professional judgments with respect thereto supported the extent of the investigation. Id.
Trial counsel consulted with a clinical psychologist, Dr. Robert Ten Eyck, who testified
See footnote Dr. Ten Eyck administered several psychological tests to Lambert.
From one of these tests, Dr. Ten Eyck concluded that Lambert may be
somewhat more emotionally excitable pe
rhaps than some other folks. And many people with
that indication sometimes behave impulsively under pressure. (R. at 6134.) Both post-conviction
experts testified that Lamberts brain condition would result in just such a lack
of control over impulses. Even with this information in front of them,
trial counsel opted to humanize Lambert and downplay his lack of control.
In fact, they actually enlisted Dr. Ten Eycks testimony to support their mitigation
theory: He still cant see himself as a person who could do that
if it hadnt been for the alcohol. ... He now feels like maybe
he could pay back what happened by helping some other people realize that
what can happen when you use alcohol and drugs.
During the post-conviction hearing, Lamberts lead trial counsel testified that Dr. Ten Eyck did not speak with Lambert until jury selection had begun and that this late arrival to the case hampered their ability to develop him as a witness. However, Dr. Ten Eycks penalty phase testimony spans 42 pages of the record, the second-most of any of Lamberts penalty phase witnesses by a wide margin. See footnote During this testimony, Dr. Ten Eyck was able to present several medical conclusions, i ncluding that Lambert possesses average intelligence, suffers from depression, See footnote and di splays immature personality traits. He defined an immature personality as one having a rather one-sided view or somewhat self-centered view of relationships in general. A tendency to be more easily aroused to feelings of inadequacy or inferiority. (R. at 6144.) Given that trial counsel co nsulted an expert and made extensive use of that experts testimony, we find that counsel made sufficient investigation here to warrant reliance on their penalty phase theory.
He also argues that appellate counsel should have argued for a reversal based
on the trial courts admission of photographs of the victim with family members.
As we determined in Part III-B, supra, these pictures were part of
the victim impact evidence that was discussed on direct appeal.
Lastly, Lambert argues that his appellate counsel were ineffective for failing to attack
the reliability of the death sentence on direct appeal. Appellants Supp. Br.
at 6. He contends that counsel should have argued that the sentence
was unreliable because: (1) counsel failed to investigate and present mitigation evidence in
the form of Lamberts mental disorders; (2) the trial court relied on non-statutory
aggravating circumstances and failed to consider mitigating circumstances supported by the record; and
(3) Lambert was not present during resentencing. Id.
First, for the same reasons we affirmed the post-conviction courts conclusion that trial counsel were not ineffective for failing to present the mental health evidence Lambert introduced in the post-conviction proceedings, we also affirm the post-conviction courts conclusion that appellate counsel were not ineffective for failing to argue that the sentence was unreliable on this ground.
Second, Lambert argues that his appellate counsel were ineffective for failing to argue that the sentence was unreliable because the trial court considered non-statutory aggravating circumstances and did not consider all the mitigating evidence Lambert presented. Appellants Supp. Br. at 6. However, our opinion on direct appeal operates as res judicata as to Lamberts claims in regards to the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. See Lambert, 643 N.E.2d at 355. As we noted in the direct appeal, we initially remanded so that the trial court could consider mitigating evidence of intoxication. The trial court subsequently entered an order that contained what we called a lengthy and detailed evaluation of each possible aggravator and each possible mitigator. Id. We then held that the trial court considered all proper mitigating circumstances and did not consider any non-statutory aggravating circumstances. Id.
Third, Lambert argues that his appellate counsel were ineffective because they failed to
argue that his sentence was unreliable because he was not given an opportunity
to be heard at resenten
cing. Appellants Supp. Br. at 6. It is
unclear what Lambert means by resentencing. To the extent this reference is
to our appellate reweighing of the aggravating and mitigating factors, we have already
analyzed that claim in Part I, supra. To the extent Lambert is
referring to the revised sentencing order entered after remand, Lambert offers no argument
to support such a claim. As such, we have no basis on
which to grant relief. See Ind. Appellate Rule 8.3(A)(7) (West 1999).
Second, Lambert argues that the State had a constitutional obligation to disclose any
ement it struck with Garske in exchange for testimony. He argues that
the States failure to do so violated Brady v. Maryland, which requires the
State to disclose material, exculpatory evidence in its possession. 373 U.S. 83,
The post-conviction court found that there was no sentence reduction agreement between the State and Garske when Garske testified. Appellants Appendix at 41. Our review of the record indicates that there was evidence to support the post-conviction courts finding.
To establish the existence of an agreement, Lambert pointed to Garskes release from prison pursuant to a sentence modification signed by the prosecutor just six days after trial. He also cited a sworn affidavit signed by Garskes attorney stating that the prosecutor advised him
that if Mr. Garske provided testimony at Mr. Lamberts capital trial consistent with the information he provided, the State would be receptive to a second Petition for Modification of Sentence. I had the clear impression that if Mr. Garske provided the testimony desired by the State, his sentence would be reduced, or that he would be released from custody. I advised Mr. Garske of my belief that he would secure sentencing relief in exchange for his testimony. It was my understanding that Mr. Garske shared that belief. ... Shortly after Mr. Garske testified for the State at Mr. Lamberts trial, the [prosecutor] advised me to file a second Petition for Modification.
(R.P-C.R. at 1365-66.) See footnote This petition was granted and Garske was released on November 22, 1991. Garske never testified at the post-conviction stage.
The State countered Lamberts argument by pointing to the prosecutors post-conviction aff
At no time did the undersigned ... in any fashion indicate to anyone the States intention to condition any action upon Mr. Garskes past or proposed Petition to Modify Sentence upon his actual or anticipated testimony in this cause. To the contrary, both Mr. Garske and his counsel were specifically advised ... that no such promise or inference could or would be made by the State. At no time did the undersigned advise [Garskes attorney or Garske] that the State would be receptive to a petition for modification of the sentence of Mr. Garske in return for any testimony.
(R.P-C.R at 2094.) The prosecutor similarly testified at a deposition that prior
to trial he admonish[ed Garske that he was not] making any promises, any
deals in exchange for his testimony. (R.P-C.R. at 2127.) The State also
introduced an affidavit from Garskes attorney that stated
I do not believe that there was any explicit or confirmed promise by the [prosecutor] to agree to a sentence reduction in exchange for Garskes testimony ... . but I felt based on my discussion with [the prosecutor] that the State would agree to a sentence reduction for Garske if he testified as expected by the State.
(R.P-C.R. at 2097.)
The evidence on this point was in conflict and it was up to the post-conviction judge to sort out the credibility of these witnesses. See State v. McCraney, 719 N.E.2d 1187, 1191 (Ind. 1999) (Whether a witness testimony at a postconviction hearing is worthy of credit is a factual determination to be made by the trial judge who has the opportunity to see and hear the witness testify.). We examine only the probative evidence and reasonable inferences that support the post-conviction courts determination and we neither reweigh the evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses. Bivins v. State, 735 N.E.2d 1116, 1122 (Ind. 2000). The post-conviction court evaluated this evidence and determined that there was no sentence reduction agreement between the State and Garske when Garske testified. Appellants Appendix at 41. The post-conviction court could reasonably have placed much weight on the disinterested testimony of Garskes attorney, who stated that he had a clear impression that Garske would be released if he testified (R.P-C.R. at 1365-66) but understood that there was [no] explicit or confirmed promise by the [prosecutor] to agree to a sentence reduction in exchange for Garskes testimony. (R.P-C.R. at 2097.)
Without an explicit agreement, Garskes unilateral expectation of sentence relief does not wa
reversal on Brady grounds. When a witness hopes for leniency in exchange for
his testimony and the State neither confirms nor denies that hope, there is
no concrete agreement requiring disclosure. The witnesss expectations, coupled with evidence of
a deal after the in-court testimony of the witness, are insufficient to require
that a disclosure be made. Rubalcada v. State, 731 N.E.2d 1015, 1023-24 (Ind.
2000). See also Abbott v. State, 535 N.E.2d 1169, 1171-72 (Ind. 1989)
([W]e cannot agree with appellants conjecture that because Hinman was offered a plea
agreement after trial, one existed before trial. We have held that expectations
coupled with evidence that a prosecutor-accomplice/witness deal may have been consummated after the
in-court testimony is insufficient to bring the case within the
Newman v. State, 263 Ind. 569, 334 N.E.2d 684 (1975).]).
Third, Lambert argues that the prosecutor should have disclosed possible impeachment evidence in the form of Garskes application for substance abuse treatment in lieu of incarceration. Specifically, a report issued in response to this application stated that Garskes interview behavior was manipulative, at times, as evidenced by conflicting information regarding his alcohol and drug use history (R.P-C.R. at 1216) and that he had difficulty giving accurate answers. (Id.) The post-conviction court concluded that [a]ny evidence of Garskes rejection from a substance abuse treatment program or his general character would not have been admissible as impeachment. Appellants Appendix at 41.
Evidence Rule 608(b) states that [f]or the purpose of attacking or supporting the
witnesss credibility, other than conviction of a crime as provided in Rule 609,
specific instances may not be inquired into or proven by intrinsic evidence.
(emphasis added). See generally Pierce v. State, 640 N.E.2d 730, 732 (Ind. Ct.
App. 1994) (The rule [608(b)] prohibits impeachment of a witness by evidence of
prior bad acts unless the act is an infamous crime or a crime
probative of credibility. The reason for the Bad Acts rule is to
prevent the jury from inferring that the witness must be a liar merely
because he has done bad things.), transfer denied.
The application and report
describe a prior bad act by showing that Garske had previously lied in
order to reduce his sentence. Lambert argues that his trial counsel should
have offered this prior bad act to show that because Garske has previously
attempted to use deceit to reduce a sentence, he was likely to do
so again. Rule 608(b) prohibits using prior bad acts to attack credibility
in this manner, and the post-conviction court was correct to conclude that even
had Lambert had this evidence, he could not have introduced it.
The fact that such evidence would have been inadmissible under the Rule of
Evidence does not necessarily resolve the
Brady claim. But a Brady violation
will warrant a reversal
only if there is a reasonable probability that, had
the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would
have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence
in the outcome.
United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667, 682 (1985).
The evidence from these treatment records only shows that Garske might have
shaded some of his statements during the intake interview for the prior offense.
We are of the opinion that this minor inroad into Garskes credibility
would not have overriden the clear evidence of Lamberts guilt in this case.
See discussion at Part III-D, supra. Moreover, trial counsel had the
opportunity to interview Garske prior to his testimony. They used what they
learned from this interview to cross-examine Garske on the fact he was currently
incarcerated for burglary and had committed other burglaries in the past.
Fourth, Lambert argues that his trial counsel were ineffective for failing to seek a continuance when the State offered the Garske testimony at trial. Lambert argues that in light of the fact that Ga rskes testimony was not disclosed in advance of trial as required by the courts discovery order, counsel should have sought a continuance and investigated Garske. Appellants Supp. Br. at 4-5. He argues that this investigation would have uncovered impeachment evidence in the form of an agreement with the prosecutor and the records pertaining to Garskes application for substance abuse treatment in lieu of incarceration. Id. at 4. It is true that the proper course of action when faced with a discovery violation is to seek a continuance. See Warren v. State, 725 N.E.2d 828, 832 (Ind. 2000); Jenkins v. State, 627 N.E.2d 789, 799 (Ind. 1993). However, Lambert suffered no prejudice from his counsels failure to seek a continuance because there would have been no such impeachment evidence to present to the jury. The post-conviction court found that no agreement existed and we have already held that the records Lambert cites could not have been admitted into evidence.
Fifth, Lambert argues that Garskes testimony was false and misleading and unreliable and
that trial and appellate counsel were ineffective for failing to argue that this
testimony was unreliable. Appellants Br. at 50, Appellants Supp. Br. at 4-5.
However, the post-conviction court specifically found that the testimony was neither false
nor misleading and found it to be reliable. Appellants Appendix at 40,
42. Our review of the record indicates that there was evidence to
support the post-conviction courts findings of fact. As with the sentence reduction
agreement, it was up to the post-conviction judge to make this credibility determination.
See McCraney, 719 N.E.2d at 1191.
Finally, Lambert asserts that trial and appellate counsel were ineffective for failing to argue that the trial court judge impermissibly relied on Garskes testimony when weighing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Appellants Supp. Br. at 5. Lambert cites the judges reference to Garskes testimony during sentencing to support his claim that he would have received a different sentence had counsel exposed Garskes unreliability at either the trial or sentencing stage. However, we have held that the post-conviction court could determine that Garske was reliable. In any event, we believe that any sentencing error resulting from the judges use of Garskes testimony was rectified by our reweighing of the aggravating and mitigating factors in our opinion on rehearing. See Lambert v. State, 675 N.E.2d 1060, 1065 (Ind. 1996).
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, BOEHM, and RUCKER, JJ., concur.