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COA: Man didn't waive right to appeal sentence

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2009
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Because the trial court may have made confusing remarks at a man's guilty plea hearing indicating he "may" have waived the right to appeal, only to later inform him of his right to appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded the defendant hadn't waived that right to appeal. The appellate court did affirm the defendant's 30-year advisory sentence for dealing in cocaine, finding he failed to prove it was inappropriate.

In Luis Ruiz Bonilla v. State of Indiana, No. 20A05-0902-CR-85, the Court of Appeals found Bonilla's situation to fall somewhere in between Creech v. State, 887 N.E.2d 73, 75 (Ind. 2008), and Ricci v. State, 894 N.E.2d 1089 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008), both of which dealt with whether a defendant waived his right to appellate review of a sentence based on conflicting remarks from judges stating the defendant may be able to appeal the sentence.

"Unlike Creech, here the trial court's advisement that Bonilla had the right to appeal occurred at the guilty plea hearing, which, as explained in Ricci, is significant," wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik. "But unlike Ricci, the trial court in this case acknowledged that Bonilla 'may' have waived the right to appeal his sentence."

Telling a defendant at his guilty plea hearing that he may have waived the right to appeal but then proceeding to advise him of the right to appeal is the precise scenario the Supreme Court warned against in Creech, when it emphasized the importance of avoiding confusing remarks in a plea colloquy, the judge continued.

In light of the contradicting and confusing information Bonilla received at his guilty plea hearing, and the fact he is not a native English speaker, the appellate court ruled he didn't waive his right to appeal his sentence.

But the Court of Appeals affirmed his advisory 30-year sentence for dealing in cocaine. Although he had received authorization to work here after entering the U.S. illegally, he failed to abide by the laws once he was here. He drove without a valid driver's license and had a misdemeanor conviction for criminal conversion. He was on probation for that conviction when he was arrested for dealing cocaine. Even though he held a steady job, and dealt cocaine because of a drug problem, his sentence is not inappropriate, wrote Judge Vaidik.
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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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