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Appeals court splits on new sentence modification issue

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An inmate’s request for a sentence modification has divided the Indiana Court of Appeals, with the majority concluding that the 365-day period during which a trial court could grant a modification begins when someone is originally sentenced, not re-resentenced after a successful appeal.

In Nathan D. Hawkins v. State of Indiana, No. 79A02-1101-CR-100, Nathan Hawkins appealed the denial of his request for sentence modification. He was originally sentenced to 16 years in July 2009 after pleading guilty to child molesting. Hawkins appealed and the COA vacated the sentence, ordering a new 10-year sentence. The trial court issued the new sentence in April 2010, and in November 2010, Hawkins asked for the modification.

The trial court denied it because it was more than a year after he was originally sentenced and because the prosecutor didn’t approve a modification.

The majority affirmed in this first impression issue, citing Redmond v. State, 900 N.E.2d 40, 42-43 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009), to hold that the 365-day period did not restart when Hawkins was re-sentenced. Judges Terry Crone and Edward Najam suggested that defendants who want to pursue both remedies should request a stay of the appeal provided by Appellate Rule 37 to allow the trial court to consider the motion for sentence modification.

Chief Judge Margret Robb dissented, believing that based on language in statute, the clock restarts when someone is re-sentenced. She also pointed out holes in the majority’s reasoning to use the stay procedure, such as if a defendant stays his appeal, the sentence is modified, and then he appeals that reduced sentence, which sentence is the appellate court to review?

She wants the Indiana Legislature to revisit the sentence modification statute – which is not clear on when the 365-day period is triggered – and make any amendments to provide a clear, workable rule.

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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