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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. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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