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Court grants transfer to clarify appeals by state

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The Indiana Supreme Court granted a transfer with opinion to address conflicting rulings regarding the state's ability to challenge the legality of a criminal sentence without first filing a motion to correct erroneous sentence. The high court held the state may challenge a criminal sentence by appeal without first filing the motion and that appeal doesn't have to happen within 30 days of the sentencing judgment.

The Supreme Court split 3-2 Tuesday in its decision in Samuel Hardley v. State of Indiana, No. 49S05-0905-CR-290, in which the state argued in its reply brief to Samuel Hardley's appeal of his theft, criminal confinement, and battery convictions that the trial court erroneously imposed concurrent sentences instead of consecutive sentences. Statute says consecutive sentences are mandatory when one crime is committed while on personal recognizance for another crime, which happened in the instant case.

The Court of Appeals ruled the state could challenge the sentence based on the doctrine of fundamental error and also declined to require the state to challenge the allegedly erroneous sentence within 30 days of the final judgment, which departs from the ruling in Hoggatt v. State, 805 N.E.2d 1281, 1284 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004). Hardley argued on appeal for transfer that the state waived any right to challenge his sentence because it failed to raise an objection in the trial court, didn't file a motion to correct erroneous sentence, and didn't raise the issue until cross-appeal.

The majority didn't agree with the 30-day deadline for the state to challenge a sentence by direct appeal, as was held in Hoggatt, nor did they extend the "facially erroneous" requirement in Robinson v. State, 805 N.E.2d 783 (Ind. 2004), to restrict efforts by the state to challenge an illegal sentence, wrote Justice Brent Dickson.

The high court held Indiana Code Section 35-38-1-15 also allows the state to challenge illegal sentences; the state's appellate sentence challenge, when the issue is a pure question of law, is an acceptable substantial equivalent to the motion to correct erroneous sentence; and an appellate challenge by the state doesn't have to be initiated in the trial court or commenced within 30 days of the judgment, wrote the justice.

Justices Theodore Boehm and Robert Rucker dissented in a separate opinion that the state should not be allowed to appeal an erroneous sentence without first raising the issue in the trial court. Justice Boehm wrote that he would follow the high court's ruling in Griffin v. State, 493 N.E.2d 439 (Ind. 1996), and require the state follow the procedure authorized in the ruling or pursue a motion to correct error under Indiana Trial Rule 59 to preserve its right to challenge a sentence on appeal.

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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