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Possible improper use of risk assessment in sentencing not enough for remand

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A man convicted of child molesting and incest will not get a chance to have his 99-year sentence reduced. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that even though the trial court may have abused its discretion, the sentence was not inappropriate.

In David Williams v. State of Indiana, 67A01-1302-CR-87, the Court of Appeals affirmed Williams’ conviction of eight counts of Class A felony child molesting and one count of Class B felony incest. It also affirmed his sentence to an aggregate term of 99 years.

Williams argued that the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing by not considering his lack of criminal history but, instead, finding his score on the Indiana Risk Assessment System to be an aggravating factor.

The Court of Appeals noted that historically the absence of a criminal history has been viewed as a mitigating factor. However, in Kimbrough v. State, 979 N.E.2d 625 (Ind. 2012), the Indiana Supreme Court retreated from that position.

There, the Supreme Court held the trial court did not abuse its discretion by failing to consider as a significant mitigating factor that the defendant had no prior criminal history. The Court of Appeals interpreted that ruling to mean since a lack of criminal history is no longer significant, the trial court is not obligated to give weight to that fact.

On Williams’ contention about the IRAS score, the Court of Appeals noted while the trial court did not directly state it used the score as a aggravating element, it did draw attention to the score as indicating Williams is at high risk of reoffending.

An evidence-based offender assessment score should not be considered as either an aggravating or mitigating factor or used to determine the length of the sentence, the COA asserted. And, to the extent that the trial court may have relied on the IRAS score, that was improper.

However, the Court of Appeals ruled it does not have to remand for resentencing because it did not find the 99-year term to be inappropriate.   

“Although we have the power to review and revise sentences, the principal role of our review should be to attempt to level the outliers, and identify some guiding principles for trial courts and those charged with improvement of the sentencing statutes, but not to achieve what we perceive to be a ‘correct’ result in each case,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote for the court.
 
 

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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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