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Woman’s sentence revised because she is not among ‘worst offenders’

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A home health care nurse whose flight from police while high on drugs and with her 89-year-old patient in the car had her sentence reduced because the Court of Appeals concluded she is not among the “worst offenders.” The high-speed chase led to a crash and the death of the patient from injuries she sustained.

In Christina M. Kovats v. State of Indiana, 15A01-1205-CR-224, Christina Kovats raised double jeopardy concerns regarding her convictions of Class D felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated and Class D felony criminal recklessness. She claimed the trial court shouldn’t have considered that N.C. died shortly after being injured in the wreck as an aggravating factor in sentencing.

Kovats stopped for gas while N.C. was in the car with her, but she left without paying. Police pursued her at high speeds, leading Kovats to crash the vehicle. N.C. suffered very severe injuries and died six weeks later. Kovats tested positive for having a high concentration of oxymorphone in her system after the accident.

The trial court merged the OWI and criminal recklessness convictions into the Class B felony neglect conviction but did not vacate those two judgments. Kovats was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The two Class D felonies were elevated based on the same serious bodily injury caused to N.C., so those convictions need to be vacated, the appellate judges concluded. The OWI conviction should be entered as the lesser-included offense of a Class A misdemeanor because that does not require proof of serious bodily injury.

The COA didn’t address Kovats’ claim that the trial court shouldn’t have considered N.C.’s death as an aggravating factor in sentencing because the judges decided the trial court should revise her sentence from 20 years to 15. Even though her crime was wholly unnecessary and senseless and fits within the classification of the worse offense, her character doesn’t lend to her being classified as a “worst offender” to justify the maximum sentence, the COA held.

She does have a criminal past, mostly tied to her drug addiction, and she has sought treatment for her addiction in jail. She also has four children, one of whom suffers from cystic fibrosis.

The case is remanded with instructions.

 

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  3. 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.

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