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Judges split on sentence reduction

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An Indiana Court of Appeals panel was split in determining how much weight to give to a defendant's mental illness in evaluating her sentence.

In Anna Westlake v. State of Indiana, No. 79A04-0803-CR-138, Anna Westlake appealed her 14-year aggregate sentence in the Department of Correction following a guilty plea to Class B felony dealing in cocaine and Class C felony neglect of a dependent. Her 6-year-old son was tested and found to have traces of drugs in his system.

Chief Judge John Baker and Judge Paul Mathias considered Westlake's demonstrated character as crucial to their review of her sentence. She immediately cooperated with police when arrested and showed them where she kept the drugs in her home, she was employed full time while in a pre-conviction release program, participated in outpatient drug treatment programs, and enrolled in parenting classes. Westlake also was diagnosed with and treated for bipolar disorder.

The majority also considered that after she was diagnosed, she was successful in the pre-conviction release program and that the trial court found she was guilty but mentally ill.

"The trial court's further recognition of her need for continued treatment and the effect that the diagnosis and treatment of her bipolar disorder have had on her personal life are also quite important," wrote Judge Mathias.

And although her offenses were serious, they weren't a continuation of a related criminal history and her character is "unusually and extraordinarily mitigating," wrote the judge.

The majority reduced her sentence to seven years imprisonment: two years suspended, one year to supervised probation, one to unsupervised probation with credit for time already served, and the executed portion of the sentence to be served in the Tippecanoe County Community Corrections program.

But Judge Elaine Brown dissented, concluding the majority placed significant emphasis on Westlake's mental illness and progress during her pre-conviction release program, and failed to give due consideration to the trial court's decision. Citing Weeks v. State, 697 N.E.2d 28, 30 (Ind. 1998), Judge Brown wrote there was no evidence presented at sentencing regarding any of the Weeks factors.

"...I believe that the trial court took Westlake's mental illness, progress in treatment, and success in the pre-conviction release program into account by imposing the advisory sentences. At most, I could recommend concurrent rather than consecutive sentences for her offenses," wrote Judge Brown.

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  1. All the lawyers involved in this don't add up to a hill of beans; mostly yes-men punching their tickets for future advancement. REMF types. Window dressing. Who in this mess was a real hero? the whistleblower that let the public know about the torture, whom the US sent to Jail. John Kyriakou. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/us/ex-officer-for-cia-is-sentenced-in-leak-case.html?_r=0 Now, considering that Torture is Illegal, considering that during Vietnam a soldier was court-martialed and imprisoned for waterboarding, why has the whistleblower gone to jail but none of the torturers have been held to account? It's amazing that Uncle Sam's sunk lower than Vietnam. But that's where we're at. An even more unjust and pointless war conducted in an even more bogus manner. this from npr: "On Jan. 21, 1968, The Washington Post ran a front-page photo of a U.S. soldier supervising the waterboarding of a captured North Vietnamese soldier. The caption said the technique induced "a flooding sense of suffocation and drowning, meant to make him talk." The picture led to an Army investigation and, two months later, the court martial of the soldier." Today, the US itself has become lawless.

  2. "Brain Damage" alright.... The lunatic is on the grass/ The lunatic is on the grass/ Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs/ Got to keep the loonies on the path.... The lunatic is in the hall/ The lunatics are in my hall/ The paper holds their folded faces to the floor/ And every day the paper boy brings more/ And if the dam breaks open many years too soon/ And if there is no room upon the hill/ And if your head explodes with dark forbodings too/ I'll see you on the dark side of the moon!!!

  3. It is amazing how selectively courts can read cases and how two very similar factpatterns can result in quite different renderings. I cited this very same argument in Brown v. Bowman, lost. I guess it is panel, panel, panel when one is on appeal. Sad thing is, I had Sykes. Same argument, she went the opposite. Her Rooker-Feldman jurisprudence is now decidedly unintelligible.

  4. November, 2014, I was charged with OWI/Endangering a person. I was not given a Breathalyzer test and the arresting officer did not believe that alcohol was in any way involved. I was self-overmedicated with prescription medications. I was taken to local hospital for blood draw to be sent to State Tox Lab. My attorney gave me a cookie-cutter plea which amounts to an ALCOHOL-related charge. Totally unacceptable!! HOW can I get my TOX report from the state lab???

  5. My mother got temporary guardianship of my children in 2012. my husband and I got divorced 2015 the judge ordered me to have full custody of all my children. Does this mean the temporary guardianship is over? I'm confused because my divorce papers say I have custody and he gets visits and i get to claim the kids every year on my taxes. So just wondered since I have in black and white that I have custody if I can go get my kids from my moms and not go to jail?

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