ILNews

Defendants can waive appeal right in bargains

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Criminal defendants can waive their right to appeal a trial court's sentencing decision as part of a plea agreement, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today.

In a unanimous ruling in Timothy Ray Creech v. State of Indiana, No. 35S02-0709-CR-376, justices affirmed a decision from Huntington Circuit Judge Thomas M. Hakes.

The case stems from a six-year executed sentence on a child-molesting charge in 2006; Creech had entered a plea agreement that left the sentence up to the trial judge but capped the executed portion at six years. The agreement stated, "I understand that I have a right to appeal my sentence if there is an open plea ... I hereby waive my right to appeal my sentence as long as the Judge sentences me within the terms of my plea agreement."

Creech argued that because the judge didn't question him about that provision, later informed him he had the right to appeal, and that he didn't knowingly and voluntarily waive his right to appellate review, he was able to challenge the sentence. Justices disagreed.

"Acceptance of the plea agreement containing the waiver provision is sufficient to indicate that, in the trial court's view, the defendant knowingly and voluntarily agreed to the waiver," Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard wrote, noting that this ruling doesn't affect the court's long-standing policy that a defendant can argue those points in post-conviction proceedings if the plea was coerced or made unintelligently.

Though justices determined that the trial judge did erroneously advise Creech of a possibility for an appeal, they determined that Creech had already received the benefit of the plea agreement and that advisement likely had no effect on the result.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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