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Attorneys Mario Massillamany & Tom Blessing Successfully Reverse Client’s Conviction on Appeal

Partners Mario Massillamany and Tom Blessing handle appeal and successfully reverse their client’s conviction for two counts of burglary and two counts of theft.

Massillamany Jeter & Carson LLP was appointed counsel to represent Mark, who was charged in 2015 with two counts of burglary and two counts of theft for stealing appliances from two homes in Carmel. Mark's case went to trial in March 2018, during which the prosecutor was allowed to tell jurors that he had been convicted in 2008 of burglarizing homes. He was convicted on all counts and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

According to MJC partner Tom Blessing, “Mark was convicted by that jury in the State’s opening statement. Once the prosecutor told the jury about Mark’s prior convictions, it was over—he didn’t get a fair trial. We saw an injustice and had to try and fix it.”

However, attorney Blessing knew it would be an uphill battle because only about 13% of convictions are reversed. “Even though the odds weren’t in our favor, when we wrote the brief, we felt pretty confident that the law was on our side,” said Blessing.

A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed, ruling that admitting evidence of Hughes’ prior convictions was improper and required reversal:

“The probative value of such prior convictions does not even come close to outweighing the prejudice that Hughes suffered from admission of such evidence….admission of evidence relating to Hughes’ prior burglary convictions affected his substantial rights, and the trial court’s admonishment and instructions to the jury…did not negate the substantial prejudice he suffered….The State’s meager evidence only confirms that the erroneous admission of Hughes’ prior convictions contributed to his convictions.”

Inquiring parties with questions regarding criminal appeals and criminal defense can reach out to Massillamany Jeter & Carson LLP today.

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