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Judges uphold sentence increase on appeal

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the defendant’s sentence that they had increased on appeal in March in an opinion on rehearing today and addressed the characteristics of an Indiana Appellate Rule 7(B) review.

In Jeffrey E. Akard v. State of Indiana, No. 79A02-0904-CR-345, Jeffrey Akard asked the court to rehear his appeal because he believed the Court of Appeals’ upward revision of his sentence for rape and other convictions violated the party presentation principle. The principle is a general rule that courts rely on the parties to frame the issues for decision and that the act of a court raising an issue sua sponte is normally reserved for situations requiring protection of pro se litigants’ rights.

In an March 30, 2010, opinion, the appellate court decided to increase Akard’s 93-year sentence to 118 years because of the heinous, violent acts he committed against his victim. The judges reviewed his sentence under Appellate Rule 7(B).

By requesting a review under Rule 7(B), in light of McCullough v. State, Akard had the opportunity to present his arguments under the rule’s standard knowing that McCullough allowed for an appellate court to revise a sentence upward or downward, wrote Judge L. Mark Bailey. Akard also was the one to present the issue and laid the framework for the sentence revision.

Akard also argued that parties can’t address the potential double jeopardy issues implicated by a revised sentence under Rule 7(B) revisions.

“This argument evidences a miscomprehension of the mechanics of double jeopardy and 7(B) review of an aggregate sentence,” wrote the judge. “Double jeopardy is not an issue of sentencing error. Rather, it potentially arises at the moment judgments of conviction are entered.”

Double jeopardy or any other issue that can be raised independently isn’t relevant to the independent appellate review of an aggregate sentence under Rule 7(B). The only constraint is the revision must be in the legal range set by the legislature, and Akard’s increased sentence fell in that range.
 

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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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