Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Coleman v. Superintendent

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

September 20, 2018

TYRUS D. COLEMAN, Petitioner,



         Tyrus D. Coleman, by counsel, filed a motion to reconsider the order denying his petition for habeas relief under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). “A court may grant a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend the judgment if the movant presents newly discovered evidence that was not available at the time of trial or if the movant points to evidence in the record that clearly establishes a manifest error of law or fact.” Matter of Prince, 85 F.3d 314, 324 (7th Cir. 1996); Deutsch v. Burlington N. R.R. Co., 983 F.2d 741, 744 (7th Cir. 1992).

         Though Coleman petitioned for habeas relief on numerous grounds, the instant motion focuses on his claim under the Double Jeopardy Clause. Specifically, he claims that issue preclusion barred his second trial on the charge for the attempted murder of Anthony Dye because the jury acquitted him on the charge for the murder of Jermaine Jackson at his first trial.

         Though I provide a more detailed account in the order denying the petition (ECF 23), I will briefly summarize the relevant events. Coleman was convicted based on an incident that occurred in his backyard where he first shot Dye and then turned and shot Jackson in quick succession. Dye, who was Jackson's father, survived the shooting. Jackson did not. The entire incident was captured on videotape.

         Coleman was charged with murdering Jackson and attempting to murder Dye. At the first trial, the court gave a self-defense instruction to the jury. The jury acquitted Coleman on the murder charge but was unable to unanimously agree on the attempted murder charge. A mistrial was called on the attempted murder count and that charge was set for a retrial. Between trials, Coleman moved for dismissal of the attempted murder count on double jeopardy grounds, arguing that the jury, through the acquittal of Coleman of the Jackson murder, had necessarily credited his self-defense argument and thus, based on the language of the self-defense instruction, necessarily found that he did not commit a crime by shooting Dye. The court disagreed and a second trial ensued. At that retrial, the jury convicted Coleman on the attempted murder charge. On direct appeal, the Court of Appeals of Indiana reversed the conviction based on Coleman's double jeopardy argument. But the Indiana Supreme Court overturned the intermediate appellate court's decision and affirmed the conviction.

         In the petition, Coleman claimed that the Indiana Supreme Court made an objectively unreasonable determination by finding that issue preclusion did not apply to the second trial. The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment “was designed to protect an individual from being subjected to the hazards of trial and possible conviction more than once for an alleged offense.” Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 187 (1957). The doctrine of issue preclusion “is embodied in the Fifth Amendment guarantee against double jeopardy.” Ashe v. Swenson, 397 U.S. 436, 445 (1970). This means that “when an issue of ultimate fact has once been determined by a valid and final judgment, that issue cannot again be litigated between the same parties in any future lawsuit.” Id. at 443. “Where a previous judgment of acquittal was based upon a general verdict, as is usually the case, this approach requires a court to examine the record of a prior proceeding, taking into account the pleadings, evidence, charge, and other relevant matter, and conclude whether a rational jury could have grounded its verdict upon an issue other than that which the defendant seeks to foreclose from consideration.” Id.

         Upon review of the Indiana Supreme Court decision, I observed a disparity between Coleman's arguments and the Indiana Supreme Court's reasoning. Here's what Coleman argued:

(1) The jury acquitted Coleman of the Jackson murder charge on the basis of self-defense;
(2) For such an acquittal, according to the jury instructions, the jury was required to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Coleman did not commit any crime that was “directly and immediately connected to the confrontation”;
(3) When considering the charge of murder, the jury interpreted “the confrontation” as the shooting of Jackson -- as opposed to interpreting “the confrontation” as encompassing both the shooting of Dye and the shooting of Jackson.
(4) The shooting of Dye was directly and immediately connected to the shooting of Jackson; and
(5) Therefore, the jury determined that the shooting of Dye was not a crime.

         The Indiana Supreme Court construed Coleman's brief as contending that “because of the brief interval between the two shootings, they necessarily amounted to a single transaction” and as arguing that “Coleman's general fear of death or great bodily harm applied equally to [Jackson] and Dye.” ECF 7-11 at 5. The court reasoned that the jury could have reasonably found that Coleman acted in self-defense only with respect Jackson. Though the Indiana Supreme Court's reasoning was internally sound, the court misconstrued Coleman's argument; Coleman's argument requires the assumption the two shootings were each separate transactions (or confrontations) and focuses on the language of the self-defense jury instruction. The court did not discuss the jury instruction and thus did not meaningfully address Coleman's argument or the reasoning of the lower appellate court.

         Faced with this unusual straw-man situation, I found that this was a case in which “the last state court to render a decision offers a bad reason for its decision” and applied the deferential standard of review set forth in Brady v. Pfister, 711 F.3d 818 (7th Cir. 2013), and Whatley v. ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.