ILNews

Pleas as mitigating circumstance allowed

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Supreme Court granted rehearing in a case to clarify that defendants who plead guilty do not give up the opportunity to claim on appeal that the trial court should have considered the guilty plea a mitigating circumstance, even if defendants fail to bring up this claim during sentencing.

Alexander Anglemyer sought rehearing following the Supreme Court's decision Alexander J. Anglemyer v. State of Indiana, 43S05-0606-CR-230, affirming his sentences for robbery and battery. Anglemyer was charged with robbery as a Class B felony and battery as a Class C felony for assaulting and robbing a pizza delivery driver. Anglemyer pleaded guilty, and the trial court handed down a 16-year sentence.

Anglemyer appealed, alleging the trial court overlooked his guilty plea as a mitigating factor. Anglemyer never mentioned his guilty plea as a mitigating factor at his sentencing hearing. In Anglemyer's first appeal, the Supreme Court stated the trial court doesn't abuse its discretion when it doesn't consider a mitigating factor that was not raised at sentencing; because he did not bring it up then, the alleged mitigating circumstance was precluded from review in the previous appeal before the Supreme Court.

In this rehearing, the Supreme Court addressed that guilty pleas can be an exception to this issue. Justice Robert Rucker wrote that although Anglemyer did not mention his guilty plea as a mitigating factor during sentencing, this doesn't prevent him from raising the issue for the first time on appeal.

A defendant has to establish the mitigating factor is not only supported by the record but also that the mitigating evidence is significant. Anglemyer received the benefit of a reduced sentence and charges for pleading guilty, but he tried to minimize his culpability for the crimes by citing his unemployment, mental impairment, and history of emotional and behavioral problems.

In this case, Anglemyer hasn't shown his guilty plea was a significant mitigating circumstance, and the Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not abuse its discretion by omitting reference to the guilty plea when imposing the sentence, wrote Justice Rucker.
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  1. 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.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. 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.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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