COA affirms remanded sentence

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man’s remanded sentence of 44 years, finding that his previous drug conviction could serve as both the basis for his consecutive sentence for a firearm conviction and to enhance his sentences for his other convictions.

In Johnnie Stokes v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-1009-CR-578, Johnnie Stokes challenged his sentence handed down on remand for Class B felonies robbery, attempted robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, and Class C felony criminal recklessness. Previously, the Court of Appeals had vacated five of his convictions related to a robbery of a recording studio in 2008 and ordered him to be re-sentenced. He received concurrent terms of 20 years for robbery and 10 years for attempted robbery, to be served consecutive to 20 years on the firearm conviction, and consecutive to four years for criminal recklessness.

Stokes argued that his sentence was improperly enhanced twice for the same prior felony conviction, claiming his 2001 conviction for dealing in cocaine improperly served as both the basis for his consecutive sentence for his firearm conviction and as part of his extensive criminal history that the trial court considered an aggravating circumstance in sentencing him for his other present offenses.

Chief Judge Margret Robb noted that explicit legislative direction permits the “enhancements’ that Stokes opposes. The judges didn’t agree with Stokes’ reliance on Sweatt v. State, 887 N.E.2d 81, 83 (Ind. 2008).

“Although his sentences for UPFSVF, robbery, and criminal recklessness were all enhanced based – technically, in part – on the same prior felony conviction, Stokes’s case is substantially different from Sweatt because a more appropriate characterization of his enhanced sentences would focus on the general length and severity of his criminal history, not a single conviction among the several,” wrote the chief judge. “The trial court recounted Stokes’s dealing in cocaine conviction while explaining his entire criminal history, and did not rely on it individually.”

The judges also found that Stokes’ sentence doesn’t violate the double jeopardy clause of the Indiana Constitution because the sentences for his convictions of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, robbery, and criminal recklessness were based on different firearms.

They also held that his consecutive sentence for the firearm conviction is not inappropriate in light of the nature of his offense and character.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.