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Pirant v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

January 31, 2019

Jamil Michael Pirant, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

          Appeal from the Lake Superior Court The Honorable Samuel L. Cappas, Judge Trial Court Cause Nos. 45G04-0905-MR-4 45G04-0905-FA-16

          Attorney for Appellant J. Michael Woods Stracci Criminal Defense, P.C. Merrillville, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General, Angela N. Sanchez Assistant Section Chief, Criminal Appeals Indianapolis, Indiana

          CRONE, JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] In 2008, the State initiated juvenile delinquency referrals against fifteen-year-old Jamil Michael Pirant for committing acts amounting to murder and class A felony attempted murder if committed by an adult. He was waived to adult court, where he pled guilty to murder while perpetrating a robbery and attempted murder. Nearly a decade later, he filed a motion to set aside his convictions pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 60(B), claiming that the adult court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because he received ineffective assistance of counsel during his waiver hearing. The trial court denied his motion, and we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] The facts as stipulated in conjunction with Pirant's plea agreement are as follows. In November 2007, fifteen-year-old Pirant and some friends agreed to rob and "take care of" Dominique Keesee. Appellant's App. Vol. 3 at 29. They forced their way into Keesee's home, ordered him at gunpoint to open his safe, stole marijuana and other personal property, and shot him until he was dead. Less than two weeks later, Pirant shot Patrick Goodman with a .22 caliber revolver during a conversation on an East Chicago street. Goodman survived.

         [¶3] In 2008, the State filed juvenile delinquency petitions alleging that Pirant committed acts amounting to murder and class A felony attempted murder if committed by an adult. In 2009, the State filed petitions to waive Pirant to adult court in both causes, which the juvenile court granted following a hearing, at which he was represented by counsel ("waiver counsel").

         [¶4] In May 2009, the State charged Pirant with murder in cause 45G04-0905-MR-4 ("Cause 4") and subsequently amended the information to include counts of murder in the perpetration of a robbery and class B felony robbery. The State charged Pirant with class A felony attempted murder in cause 45G04-0905-FA-16 ("Cause 16"). Pirant was represented by the same counsel in adult court ("trial counsel"). In August 2009, Pirant entered into a plea agreement whereby he pled guilty to murder in the perpetration of a robbery in Cause 4 and attempted murder in Cause 16, in exchange for the dismissal of the remaining charges in Cause 4. Pursuant to the agreement, Pirant was to provide testimony at the trials of his friends. The plea agreement fixed his aggregate sentence at forty-five years. The factual basis was stipulated, and the trial court took the matter under advisement pending a hearing for formal acceptance and sentencing. Pirant's counsel moved to continue the hearing, which the trial court granted. Before the acceptance and sentencing hearing, Pirant was called to testify at the trial of one of his friends and refused. Trial counsel moved to withdraw, and Pirant moved to withdraw his guilty plea. The trial court denied both motions, accepted the plea agreement, and sentenced Pirant accordingly.

         [¶5] In 2011, Pirant filed a petition for post-conviction relief ("PCR"), in which he raised ineffective assistance of trial counsel during the proceedings in adult court and trial court error concerning his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The post-conviction court denied Pirant's petition following a hearing, and Pirant filed a notice of appeal. In 2013, this Court dismissed his appeal with prejudice after he failed to file an appellant's brief.

         [¶6] In 2018, Pirant filed a motion to vacate his convictions pursuant to Trial Rule 60(B)(6). The trial court denied Pirant's motion, finding that he filed the motion "years beyond what might be deemed 'within a reasonable time.'" Appealed Order at 1. Pirant filed a motion to correct error, which the trial court also denied. He now appeals. Additional facts will be provided as necessary.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶7] Pirant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to set aside his convictions pursuant to Trial Rule 60(B)(6). A ruling on a Trial Rule 60(B) motion is left to the trial court's sound discretion. State v. Willits, 773 N.E.2d 808, 811 (Ind. 2002). On review, we will reverse only if the trial court abused that discretion. Id. An abuse of discretion occurs if the trial court's decision is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before it or if it ...


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