Justices split over reducing meth sentence

December 10, 2014

Justices Brent Dickson and Mark Massa disagreed with their colleagues Wednesday that a Tippecanoe County man’s 40-year sentence for Class A felony dealing in methamphetamine needed to be revised.

Justice Steven David, writing for the majority, said “In our collective judgment, Parks’ sentence is excessive.”

Police responded to an apartment on a call of a strong odor, where they found William Parks inside. He admitted to attempting to cook methamphetamine. He was charged with and convicted of several counts, which were merged into his Class A felony dealing conviction. Of the 40-year sentence, 26 years were to be executed in the Department of Correction, four years executed through the Tippecanoe County Community Corrections, and 10 years suspended to probation, with five years supervised and five years unsupervised.

In William A. Parks v. State of Indiana, 79S04-1412-CR-730, the majority decided a more appropriate sentence is an aggregate of 30 years, with 20 years in the DOC, two years in the TCCC, and eight years on probation, with four years supervised and four years unsupervised. They remanded for the trial court to impose that sentence.

Dickson wrote that he is not convinced this case is sufficiently rare or exceptional to warrant appellate intrusion into the trial court’s sentencing decision. He pointed to the serious nature of the offense and Parks’ criminal history. Also, Parks’ sentence is not extreme: The sentencing range is 20 to 50 years, with the statutory advisory sentence of 30 years.

He believes the appellate court should exercise even more restraint in revising a defendant’s sentence.

“Any greater frequency in appellate revision of criminal sentences may induce and foster reliance upon such review for ultimate sentencing evaluations and thus serve as a disincentive to the cautious and measured fashioning of sentences by trial judges. Restrained sentencing decisions are best made by a trial judge with the gravity that results from knowing that the judge's decisions are essentially final,” he wrote.



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