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Consecutive sentences in drug buy case ruled inappropriate

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A man sentenced to 40 years in prison after he sold crack cocaine to undercover agents in two separate controlled buys received an inappropriate punishment, the Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Pedro Alvarez was convicted of two counts of Class B felony dealing in cocaine, and a jury convicted him in absentia and sentenced him to serve consecutive 20-year terms after he was found in Mississippi.

The appellate panel ordered the sentences be served concurrently in Pedro Alvarez v. State of Indiana, 09A02-1203-CR-241.

Judge Rudy R. Pyle III wrote that the court has held that consecutive sentences for multiple counts based on nearly identical police buys was inappropriate, citing Rios v. State, 930 N.E.2d 664 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010), and Bell v. State, 881 N.E.2d 1080 (Ind Ct. App. 2008).

Alvarez did not prevail in his appellate claim that the prosecution’s use of a jail mug shot from a prior arrest caused him undue prejudice. The court has held that when a defendant fails to appear, mug shots are of probative value for establishing identity.

“The Cass County Sheriff’s Department only possessed a photograph of Alvarez from a prior arrest and not his current case. The mug shot was redacted to remove references to the prior arrest,” Pyle wrote. “… Had Alvarez simply appeared for his trial, there would have been no reason to admit the mug shot.”

Alvarez was represented on appeal by Lisa M. Traylor-Wolff of Logansport, a former senior judge who was charged Monday in a disciplinary action filed by the Supreme Court.


 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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