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High court takes sentence-review case

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The state's highest court has decided to take a case in which a defendant questioned whether the appellate review of a sentence should consider the suspended portion of a sentence as qualitatively different from the executed portion when determining if a sentence is inappropriate.

The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer to Desmond Davidson v. State of Indiana, No. 49S02-1001-CR-41, in which Desmond Davidson appealed his advisory 545-day sentence -180 days executed and 365 days suspended to probation.

The Court of Appeals has been unable to reach a unanimous agreement on this issue: some judges believed suspended sentences ought to be treated no differently from executed sentences for purposes of appellate review. Others believed a sentence is not a "maximum" one, even if it equals the maximum time allowed by statute if part of that time is suspended.

In Davidson, the Court of Appeals held that in the appellate review of sentencing decisions, the court wouldn't just look at the number of years of the sentence but would look at the total sentence imposed. The appellate court upheld Davidson's sentence.

Judge Michael Barnes concurred in result in a separate opinion because he believed the majority opinion and Jenkins v. State, 909 N.E.2d 1080, 1085-86 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009), which the majority opinion relied on, are inconsistent with Mask v. State, 829 N.E.2d 932 (Ind. 2005). Jenkins held that a maximum sentence is not just a sentence of maximum length but a fully executed sentence of maximum length.

Judge Barnes wrote he would review Davidson's sentence as the 545-day sentence because it's his one chance for full appellate review of the 545-day sentence. He also wrote the trial court didn't abuse its discretion in sentencing him.

The justices denied transfer to Jenkins in October.

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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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