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Entering a guilty plea is not a mitigating factor, COA rules

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Although a Shelby County man successfully argued that signing an “Advisement of Rights and Waiver” document did not bar him from appealing his sentence, he failed to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that the trial court abused its discretion when sentencing him.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the aggregate sentence of 25 years executed and five years suspended in Ryan Westlake v. State of Indiana, 73A01-1209-CR-433.

Ryan Westlake had entered a plea agreement, pleading guilty to Class A felony child molesting and Class B felony sexual misconduct with a minor, in exchange for having four other charges dismissed. As a mitigating factor, he pointed to his mental health issues.

However, in imposing the sentence, the trial court found the mitigating factor was equally countered by the aggravating factors of his criminal and juvenile record.

Westlake appealed, arguing the trial court abused its discretion because it did not use his guilty plea as a mitigating factor.

The state submitted that Westlake waived his right to appeal these issues because he signed the “Advisement of Rights and Waiver” document. This form was submitted to the court along with Westlake’s plea agreement.

The COA found that although Westlake waived his right to challenge his sentence pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 7(B), the waiver provision does not specifically address abuse of discretion claims. Consequently, the court concluded that Westlake did not waive his abuse of discretion claim.

Still, the Court of Appeals ruled the trial court did not abuse its discretion. The COA noted Westlake gained a “substantial benefit” by pleading guilty because four additional charges were dismissed, three of which were felonies. In addition, Westlake admitted to having sexual intercourse with the two underage victims multiple times.


 

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  1. Such things are no more elections than those in the late, unlamented Soviet Union.

  2. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  3. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  4. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  5. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

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