Max Wiley

Max Wiley


  • Board Member - IU McKinney School of Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic
  • Former Major Felony Prosecutor -- Lead Prosecutor on Several High Profile Cases, Including Extensive Experience in Handling Murder and Homicide Cases
  • Extensive Jury Trial Experience as Both Criminal Defense Attorney and Prosecutor
  • Juris Doctor, IU McKinney School of Law
  • Earlham College B.A. 2004 (Psychology)
  • Scholar Athlete Award Winner- Earlham College

Practicing Criminal Law the Right Way

Representing Wrongfully Convicted Man Helped Shape Love for Criminal Law

I have been able to work on several important cases in my legal career, as both a defense attorney as well as a prosecutor, but the case that had the greatest impact on me occurred before I even passed the bar exam. I was still in law school when I was given the opportunity to work on a case involving two innocent men convicted of crimes they did not commit. Roosevelt Glenn and Daryl Pinkins have since been exonerated and freed, but at the time I first began working on their case, both men were serving lengthy prison sentences. I appeared in an episode of 48 Hours which featured their story.

Witnessing firsthand how the system failed and how good men, because of that failure, were wrongfully convicted has had a profound impact on me. It also impressed upon me how high the stakes are in criminal law. Simply put, there is no room for error.

Armed with this knowledge and early experience in criminal law, I knew I wanted to work on cases where the stakes were high and where I could have the biggest impact. I began my career in the Marion County Public Defender Agency. I quickly worked my way up the ladder to the Major Felony Division. I went to trial over 90 times fighting for my clients, handling every level of charge from murder to misdemeanors. I believe there is no better place for a trial lawyer to start their career than as a public defender in a big city. Nowhere else do you have such a high volume of cases and the opportunity to fight all the way to trial. It was during those formative years that I began studying the craft of trial law. Being a trial lawyer is a difficult skill and there are no short-cuts. The only way to learn is to get into the courtroom and battle with the best –which is what I did. It is a difficult process and that is probably why many lawyers never go to trial, let alone put in the time to become skilled trial lawyers. For me, it was clear from early on that I wanted to be a trial lawyer and I wanted to be one of the best.

After several years working as a criminal defense attorney, I was offered a job as a prosecutor. The Marion County Prosecutor's office needed experienced trial attorneys to handle major felony cases and had witnessed me in action in the courtroom. I joined their Major Case Unit and became a Major Felony Prosecutor. This unexpected opportunity was an excellent way to become a well-rounded criminal trial lawyer. Having the ability to view cases through the lens of a prosecutor has certainly made me a better criminal defense lawyer as I bring that perspective to every case. This helps me, and the rest of our firm, better anticipate the next move of the prosecutor because I have been there. I firmly believe that it takes good lawyers on both sides for the system to work, and I am proud of my work as a prosecutor.

In my time as a prosecutor I was fortunate to work on several high-profile cases. Most notably, I was the lead prosecutor in the case against William Gholston and secured a conviction against him for the brutal abduction and murder of a 14 year old girl on Indianapolis's west side, see article here. I also obtained convictions against Jeremiah Roberts and Derek Romano, two hitch hikers who brutally murdered and robbed a local pizza delivery driver, see article here.

My years as a prosecutor also reinforced an important concept that our firm is built on and that I first learned as a public defender: trial lawyers get the best results. There are many defense attorneys that will never take a case to trial and as a prosecutor, you know who those lawyers are. You also know who the true trial attorneys are and that can make all the difference in the world. When charges are filed, it’s because prosecutors believe they have a case. If they are dealing with an attorney who will never go to trial, then their belief will never be tested and the case will most-assuredly end with a guilty plea; it’s just a matter of time. It is an entirely different dynamic when you are dealing with a skilled trial lawyer: from day one, the prosecutor is forced to think about how their case will hold up at trial. Even strong cases have problems and when the prosecutor starts to worry about those problems being exploited by a skilled trial lawyer, suddenly they might not feel so strong about their case. In this regard, there is no substitute for an experienced trial lawyer and that absolutely should be the most important consideration when you hire an attorney.

In all, I tried 26 jury trials as a prosecutor, including 9 murder trials and 2 attempt-murder trials. Between my work as a criminal defense attorney and as a prosecutor, I’ve gone to trial over 100 times, including over 50 jury trials.

Once I learned that The Criminal Defense Team was looking for a new trial lawyer, I knew I wanted to be a part of their growing firm. I was already aware of the firm’s reputation for success. However, it was their reputation for focusing on practicing law the right way that caused me to accept their offer. Our firm focuses on not just being good lawyers, but also being good people. That focus on being good people is at the heart of the work we do for our clients. When that focus is combined with our experience, dedication and willingness to fight for our clients all the way to trial, it makes our firm and its lawyers a force in the courtroom. That focus also makes our lawyers the type of human beings that can counsel you through the difficult – and often horrific – experience of being accused of a crime. We never forget that we are human beings first. This makes us all more effective lawyers.

My time as a prosecutor made me a better criminal defense attorney and by joining the criminal defense team, my career has come full circle. It started with fighting for Roosevelt Glenn and Daryl Pinkins in law school, and it continues with fighting every day for each of our clients and their family and friends.

  • "Max Wiley was a force of nature in criminal law circles in Indianapolis very early on. He broke from the pack as a young public defender, quickly moving up the ladder due to his trial skills. He then moved on to the prosecutor’s office where his name and reputation continued to grow to the point where he was asked to handle high profile cases. Our firm is so blessed to have Max Wiley’s wealth of experience, both as a defense lawyer and prosecutor. His calm demeanor and brains are a great resource for our whole team but it is our clients who benefit the most. Watching Max interact with prosecutors, judges and court staff and witnessing the respect they have for him as a person and lawyer makes me proud to fight along side him for our clients." -- Kathie Perry, lawyer, the Criminal Defense Team of Baldwin Kyle & Kamish, PC.