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Supreme Court split over reducing man's sentence

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The Indiana Supreme Court was divided 3-2 over whether to reduce the sentence of a man who received the maximum 20 years for having cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school when police stopped his vehicle.

In Antwon Abbott v. State of Indiana, No. 34S02-1202-CR-110, Justices Robert Rucker and Frank Sullivan and Chief Justice Randall Shepard ordered the trial court to reduce Antwon Abbott’s 20-year sentence to 12 years. Abbott was the passenger in a car that was pulled over for a “window tint” violation. The car was stopped near a private school. Abbott had rolling papers, a plastic bag with 26 smaller baggies, and a plastic baggie taped under his scrotum that had 1.15 grams of cocaine and 5.17 grams of marijuana.

If not for being stopped by the officer near the school, then Abbott would have been charged with Class D felony possession of cocaine, which carries a maximum penalty of three years. These circumstances “weigh heavily” in assessing the appropriateness of his sentence, wrote Rucker. Despite Abbott’s extensive criminal history, the majority decided his sentence should be shortened.

“These circumstances compel us to conclude that although Abbott’s character does not necessarily justify a revision of his sentence, the nature of Abbott’s offense in this case renders his twenty-year maximum sentence inappropriate,” wrote Rucker.

Justices Steven David and Brent Dickson dissented because they wanted the original sentence left in tact.

“Although sympathy may arise when a defendant who commits a Class D felony suddenly finds himself facing a Class B felony sentence, the trial court here adequately justified the sentence imposed,” David wrote.

Police found a substantial amount of drugs on Abbott and he has a long criminal history. David cited a portion of the Indiana Court of Appeals opinion which upheld the 20-year sentence that said “Clearly, Abbott has not reformed his criminal behavior despite his numerous prior contacts with the criminal justice system.”

 

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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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