Court of Appeals reverses decision in Goudy case

Court of Appeals reverses decision in Goudy case

The Herald Bulletin

by: Ken de la Bastide             May 4, 2019

After serving 16 years in prison and having his murder conviction vacated, Walter Goudy has won another victory in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Circuit Court on Wednesday reversed a decision by Judge Sarah Evans Barker in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, allowing Goudy to seek damages against Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings and former Anderson Police Department detective Steve Napier.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Barker’s summary judgment in favor of Cummings and Napier and ordered future court proceedings.

In his filing with the Court of Appeals by Chicago attorney Richard Dvorak, Goudy alleged that Cummings, then a detective in the murder case, and Napier withheld evidence that could have brought the jury’s verdict into question.

It is alleged that Goudy’s 14th Amendment rights were violated by the actions of the two officers. The amendment guarantees equal protection of the laws.

Goudy’s conviction on charges of murder and attempted murder in connection with the 1993 shooting death of Marvin McCloud and a passenger in McCloud’s car was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit in 2010. A special prosecutor decided to not pursue the charges against Goudy.

Goudy had served 15 years of a 110-year sentence imposed by Madison Circuit Court Division 3 Judge Thomas Newman Jr. following a 1995 trial.

In overturning the conviction, the appeals court said the prosecutor’s office failed during the trial to disclose three eyewitness statements, which identified a primary state witness as the shooter.

Cummings said Friday he thought Judge Barker’s decision was well reasoned.

“I don’t understand the ruling of the 7th Circuit,” he said. “Their decisions recently have confused me.

“I don’t understand the logic,” Cummings continued. “(Barker’s) decision was well founded. Everybody knew about the videotape. Judge Barker decided that there couldn’t be an effort to withhold evidence when everyone knew about the existence of the videotape.”

Cummings said as Madison County prosecutor, he is represented by the Indiana Attorney General and along with Napier as police officers is represented by legal counsel for the City of Anderson.

He said the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided a jury should make the determination on whether or not evidence was withheld during Goudy’s murder and attempted murder trial.

Goudy, through Dvorak, filed a federal lawsuit seeking several million dollars in damages in 2012.

“Of course, it is still up to the jury to decide whether Napier and Cummings suppressed these pieces of evidence,” the court ruling states. “But if they did, they cannot use qualified immunity to avoid liability.”

Certain evidence favorable to Goudy’s case was never disclosed to the jury during his trial, including three police reports that revealed information that several witnesses identified a different manin a photo lineup, Kaidi Harvell, as the shooter on the driver’s side of the car.

The jury also didn’t hear a videotaped confession by Romeo Lee, Goudy’s “lookalike” brother, who was there at the time of the shooting and ultimately confessed to being one of the shooters, along with Harvell.

Goudy’s argument is that the investigators subjected him to an improper show-up procedure, withheld a recording of witnesses identifying a different person as the shooter in a lineup, and withheld interview notes showing that Harvell initially had denied any involvement in the murder, but later changed his story.

Court records note that former Madison County Prosecutor William Lawler in 1994 decided to drop the charges against Goudy. After Cummings was elected prosecutor, he decided to re-charge Goudy in 1995.

A part of the court record is that on Sept. 1, 1994, APD conducted a videotaped lineup in which several witnesses identified Kaidi Harvell as the shooter.

Five days later, Cummings checked out the video of the lineup and didn’t return it until Nov. 22, 1995.

“We do not know where Cummings kept the video, nor do we have a reliable accounting of its whereabouts,” the ruling states.