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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decision today on preservation of Blakely claim

Undray L. Knighten v. State of Indiana deals with preservation of a Blakely claim. Justice Sullivan writes for a unanimous court:

In his appellate brief, filed on December 27, 2004, Knighten challenged his sentence on the specific ground that the trial court relied upon improper factors in enhancing his sentence. Although he did not explicitly argue that his sentence violated the United States Supreme Court decision in Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), he cited Blakely in his brief. * * * The Court of Appeals, however, found that Knighten had waived his sentencing argument because his “many citations [were] unpersuasive in the absence of cogent reasoning.”

Knighten petitioned for rehearing, arguing, among other things, that he did not intention-ally waive his sentencing argument and that in light of our decision in Smylie v. State, 823 N.E.2d 679, 689 (Ind. 2005), he had preserved his Blakely claim by contesting his sentence on appeal. The Court of Appeals granted rehearing for the limited purpose of clarifying a sufficiency of the evidence issue and affirmed its original opinion. * * *

As mentioned above, Knighten filed his initial appellate brief challenging his sentence prior to the date on which we decided Smylie. He subsequently raised a specific Blakely claim in his petition for rehearing, filed on July 8, 2005. Therefore, Knighten is entitled to review on the merits of his Blakely claim.

We grant transfer, summarily affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals as to all issues except sentencing, and remand this case to the Court of Appeals for consideration of and ruling on Knighten’s Blakely claim.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 22, 2005 04:38 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions