ILNews

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. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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