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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ind. Decisions - "Indiana court sets rules for use of tests in sentencing"

The Supreme Court's decision yesterday in the case of Anthony Malenchik v. State of Indiana (ILB entry here) is the subject of an AP story today by Charles Wilson, headed "Indiana court sets rules for use of tests in sentencing" by the Lafayette Journal Courier. Some quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS — Judges can consider psychological test scores when sentencing defendants, but only up to a point, the Indiana Supreme Court said Wednesday.

The tests, commonly used by probation officers, can’t be used to determine how many years a person spends in prison, the justices said in a unanimous ruling.

But the court said judges can use them in related decisions, such as whether inmates must receive drug treatment and in setting terms of probation.

Probation officers across the nation use the tests — chiefly the Level of Service Inventory-Revised, or LSI-R — to assess whether an offender is likely to commit more crimes and determine the level of supervision and type of treatment needed.

And that, the judges said, is the tests’ proper role.

“Such evidence-based assessment instruments can be significant sources of valuable information for judicial consideration in deciding whether to suspend all or part of a sentence, how to design a probation program for the offender, whether to assign an offender to alternative treatment facilities or programs, and other such corollary sentencing matters,” Justice Brent Dickson wrote in the 15-page decision.

But, he said, it was clear the tests were neither “intended nor recommended to substitute for the judicial function of determining the length of sentence appropriate for each offender.”

The ruling upheld a six-year sentence imposed by a Tippecanoe County judge on Anthony Malenchik on charges of receiving stolen property and being a habitual offender. Malenchik had argued the judge improperly used the test scores as aggravating factors in determining his sentence.

While the justices said the test scores shouldn’t be used as aggravating factors, they did not believe the judge had done so.

The court also upheld an eight-year sentence given to a convicted child molester on the same grounds. [ILB - that was J.S. v. State of Indiana - ILB entry here - 2nd case.]

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 10, 2010 10:24 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions