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Advisory sentence not sentencing starting point

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A man appealing his 15-year sentence for rape made a "novel" argument in his brief: the trial court should have started its calculation of his sentence using the advisory sentence of 10 years instead of using the midpoint of 13 years.

In Ryan Richardson v. State of Indiana, No. 84A04-0811-CR-654, Ryan Richardson's argument in his appeal of his sentence "highlighted an oddity within Indiana's revised sentencing statutes" that hadn't been addressed yet by the state appellate courts, wrote Judge Terry Crone.

Richardson pleaded guilty to rape and sexual misconduct with a minor; his victim was his 15-year-old niece. The trial court merged the convictions and considered it to really be one crime of rape. The trial judge informed Richardson of the maximum of 20 years, minimum of six years and advisory sentence of 10 years for the rape conviction. The judge used the midpoint of 13 years as his starting point for sentencing. From the 13 years, the judge considered the mitigating and aggravating factors and tacked on two years as an enhancement due to Richardson's prior criminal record.

On appeal, Richardson contended the trial judge should have used the advisory sentence of 10 years as the starting point and added or subtracted time from that point. Judge Crone noted that the statutory sections that provide permissible sentences for Class A, B, C, or D felonies - with the exception of murder - don't have advisory sentences that are the mathematical midpoints between the maximum and minimum sentences. However, the fact the advisory sentences for those felonies don't equal the midway point, while strange, doesn't change the fact the "advisory sentence" is not a mandatory starting point, the judge wrote. A trial court isn't required to use the statutory advisory sentence or any other particular point as a starting point in its sentencing considerations.

The appellate judges reviewed Richardson's sentence and found it to be appropriate given the circumstances of the case.

In a lengthy footnote, Judge Crone wrote that the rape and sexual misconduct with a minor charges didn't have to merge and the facts in the probable cause affidavit outlined two distinct acts.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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