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Plea agreement did not give court ability to impose restrictive probation

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A trial court went too far when it accepted a plea agreement then imposed a one-year term in work release as a condition of probation, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled.

Dexter Berry entered into a plea agreement, pleading guilty to a Class B felony burglary and several lesser offenses. Under the terms of the agreement, the court would impose a 10-year executed sentence and could require probation beyond the 10 years.

The court sentence Berry to a total of 15 years. Ten years were to be executed in prison and five years suspended with two of those years served on probation. Further, the court ordered Berry to spend the first year of his probation on work release.

After the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed by memorandum the decision, Berry sought transfer. The issue was whether the terms of his plea agreement gave the court the discretion to impose a restrictive placement as a condition of his probation.

The Indiana Supreme Court found Berry’s plea agreement leaves all aspects of the sentence to the discretion of the court. However, while Berry’s agreement grants the court the ability to determine where the defendant will serve his executed sentence, it is silent as to the court’s ability to impose any restrictive placement for probation.   

“With no clear grant of such authority in the agreement itself, no indication that any of the parties understood the plea agreement to confer such discretion, and a specific provision that implies the absence of discretion over the placement of Defendant’s probation, we must conclude that the trial court lacked authority to impose a punitive placement for Defendant’s probation,” Justice Loretta Rush wrote in Dexter Berry v. State of Indiana, 49S04-1406-CR-416.

Chief Justice Brent Dickson along with Justices Steven David and Mark Massa concurred. Justice Robert Rucker concurred in result.

 
 

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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.

  4. 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.

  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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