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Justices strike down partial consecutive sentences

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Indiana trial court judges do not have discretion to impose partial consecutive sentences, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

Bryant E. Wilson was convicted of Class A felony counts of rape and criminal deviate conduct and Class B felony armed robbery. Grant Circuit Judge Mark E. Spitzer sentenced Wilson to 45 years in prison on the A felony counts and 20 years on the B felony. He ordered five years of the 20-year sentence be served consecutively to the 45-year term, with the remaining 15 years served concurrently, for an aggregate 50-year sentence.

“Is this form of sentence permissible?” Justice Steven David wrote for the court in Bryant E. Wilson v. State of Indiana, 27S02-1309-CR-584. “Because trial courts are limited to sentences authorized by statute, and because the relevant provisions of the Indiana Code here do not authorize such a hybrid sentence, the answer must be 'no.'"

The Court of Appeals affirmed Wilson’s sentence in a split opinion. The majority of the COA panel held that such partial-consecutive sentences were permissible because statute did not prohibit them. Justices, however, sided with then-Chief Judge Margret Robb’s dissent in which she wrote courts may only impose sentences authorized by statute.

"Chief Judge Robb was correct when she said that “sentencing is a creature of the legislature and … we are limited to sentences that have been expressly permitted by the legislature,” David wrote. The panel wrote that allowing hybrid sentences would potentially create absurd and complicated results.

Justices remanded the matter for resentencing not to exceed the current aggregate 50-year term.

"There are a number of ways that Wilson’s aggregate sentence of fifty years can be effectuated by the trial court on remand, if it is merited. Imposing a partially consecutive sentence for one of the individual convictions is not one of them," David wrote.

 
 
 

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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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