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COA orders reduced sentence in first impressions case

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In reversing a sentence for a serious violent felon, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that intending to commit a “crime of violence” is not, in itself, a crime of violence.

In Zarumin Coleman v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1101-CR-12, Zarumin Coleman appealed his 60-year sentence for one count of Class A felony conspiracy to commit robbery and one count of Class B felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.

Coleman argued that the sentence exceeded the maximum permissible for engaging in a single episode of criminal conduct. The appeals court examined Indiana Code Section 35-50-1-2(c), which states in part that the court may order sentences to be served consecutively, even if they are not imposed at the same time. But, the code section states: “However, except for crimes of violence, the total of the consecutive terms of imprisonment, exclusive of terms of imprisonment under IC 35-50-2-8 and IC 35-50-2-10, to which the defendant is sentenced for felony convictions arising out of an episode of criminal conduct shall not exceed the advisory sentence for a felony which is one (1) class of felony higher than the most serious of the felonies for which the person has been convicted.”

The appeals court considered whether felony conspiracy to commit robbery is a crime of violence, with respect to consecutive sentencing.

Coleman pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and firearm possession charges, following a botched robbery. Coleman had instructed his girlfriend to give a gun to one of the parties involved in the robbery attempt, and he drove the would-be robbers to a home that reportedly contained money and marijuana. Ronald Davis entered the home, and shot and killed two women and two children, using the gun Coleman’s girlfriend provided.

The appeals court held that despite the tragic events in the home, no evidence exists to suggest that Davis actually committed a robbery, as he fled without any property. It also concluded that intending to commit a crime of violence is not a crime of violence, and therefore, Coleman’s sentence was inappropriate.

“We are compelled to conclude a sentence of sixty years on convictions for Class A felony conspiracy to commit robbery and Class B felony possession of a firearm by a (serious violent felon) violate the single episode of criminal conduct rule for non-‘crimes of violence,’” the court wrote in its opinion.  

The court reversed and remanded for the trial court to resentence Coleman to a total term of 55 years. In accordance with Ind. Code Section 35-50-2-3(a), the 55-year term is the advisory sentence for murder, the next class of felony above Class A. The appeals court found that sentence to be appropriate, in light of the nature of the offenses and Coleman’s character, and refused to reduce it further to a term of 45 years.

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  1. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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