The Fifth District Appellate Court has affirmed former St. Clair County circuit court judge John Baricevic's dismissal of a criminal defendant's post-conviction petition.
In the original case, People v. Carraway, appellant Darnell Carraway was indicted along with two other defendants, Earl Ladd and Kirk Foster, with one count of armed robbery, home invasion, aggravated discharge of a firearm and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon on July 2, 2010.
Carraway pleaded guilty to home invasion on the condition the other charges were dropped. He was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment followed by a three-year term of mandatory supervised release.
On Sept. 16, 2014, Carraway filed a post-conviction petition stating his counsel neglected to suppress conflicting statements and evidence; providing ineffective assistance of counsel.
Carraway referenced officer narratives, fingerprint evidence, and DNA samples as evidence to his claim. However, the petition he submitted lacked the necessary reports of the narratives, the court found. Moreover, the DNA and fingerprint reports he had referenced was deemed inconclusive to his case and their reports were also not attached to his petition.
Carraway had also claimed he would be able to present a defense if he was granted an evidentiary hearing but then failed to explain what said defense would be, only attaching a one affidavit-his own-stating the facts “are true and correct to the best of my recollection."
In light of what was presented, the circuit court dismissed Carraway’s petition citing his inability to show a constitutional violation and his failure to provide evidence of his counsel negligence which led to the filing of the appeal.
Justice Melissa Chapman wrote for the panel that the judgment made by the circuit court was sound concluding the defendant’s petition had excluded pertinent evidence. Also, according to the appellate court ruling, there is legal precedence allowing circuit courts to dismiss post-conviction petitions when the petition in question is determined to be “frivolous”.
Furthermore, the culpability of his counsel was considered a moot point since Carraway’s argument hinged on the lack of suppression of what he considered contradictory evidence. But he failed to argue the basis of his claim and was seemingly unaware that contradictory evidence could not be suppressed, the appellate court ruled.