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Judges disagree as how to review sentence

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A panel of Indiana Court of Appeals judges affirmed today that a defendant's sentence following a guilty plea wasn't inappropriate, but the judges didn't agree as to how to reach that conclusion.

In T. L. Brandon Hollar v. State of Indiana, No. 43A05-0906-CR-319, Judges L. Mark Bailey and Cale Bradford relied on Jenkins v. State, 909 N.E.2d 1080 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009), to determine T. L. Brandon Hollar's sentence of three years in prison with two years suspended wasn't inappropriate. Hollar pro se pleaded guilty to Class D felony nonsupport of a dependent child and argued on appeal that he received the maximum sentence despite the two years being suspended to probation. He wanted the Court of Appeals to revise it through Indiana Appellate Rule 7(B).

The split Jenkins court concluded that in analyzing whether a sentence is inappropriate under Rule 7(B), anything less than a fully executed sentence of the maximum length doesn't constitute a maximum sentence. It also ruled that it's not realistic to consider a year of probation, a year in community corrections, and a year in prison as equivalent.

The majority looked at whether Hollar's sentence was composed of executed imprisonment time, in whole or in part, or included any alternatives to incarceration while performing the 7(B) analysis. It determined based on the nature of the offense and Hollar's character, he hadn't persuaded the appellate court that his sentence was inappropriate.

Judge Nancy Vaidik agreed with the result of the majority's ruling, but believed the court should use a different approach in evaluating sentences. She referred to Mask v. State, 829 N.E.2d 932, 935-36 (Ind. 2005).

"A probationary term poses the very 'real possibility' that a defendant will have to serve his suspended sentence," she wrote. "Whether or not this is within the control of the defendant, I find it unrealistic to ignore the suspended portions of a sentence and review only those portions ordered executed."

Her main concern was if the appellate court declines to review the totality of a potential sentence on direct appeal, the defendant would have no other opportunity to challenge the appropriateness of the sentence should probation be revoked. She declined to follow Jenkins and instead would review the entirety of Hollar's suspended and executed sentences for inappropriateness. She also concluded based on his character and the circumstances of the case, his sentence is appropriate.

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  1. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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