McDaniel v. Commonwealth, 2014-SC-000241-DG

Decision Date25 August 2016
Docket Number2014-SC-000242-DG,2014-SC-000241-DG,2014-SC-000243-DG
Citation495 S.W.3d 115
Parties Jonathan McDaniel, Appellant v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, Appellee David Deshields, Appellant v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, Appellee John C. Martin, Appellant v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, Appellee
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky

COUNSEL FOR APPELLANTS JONATHAN MCDANIEL AND DAVID DESHIELDS: Meredith Krause, Assistant Public Advocate, Department of Public Advocacy

COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT JOHN C. MARTIN: Margaret Anne Ivie, Assistant Public Advocate, Department of Public Advocacy

COUNSEL FOR APPELLEES: Andy Beshear, Attorney General of Kentucky, Thomas Allen Van De Rostyne, Christian Kenneth Ray Miller, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General

AFFIRMING ON OTHER GROUNDS AND VACATING IN PART

OPINION OF THE COURT BY JUSTICE HUGHES

Prior to an amendment in 2011, Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 532.043 provided in part that in addition to the other penalties authorized by law, any person convicted of certain offenses, including any felony offense under KRS Chapter 510, the Penal Code chapter addressed to sex offenses, “shall be subject to a period of conditional discharge” following the “expiration of sentence.” KRS 532.043(1) (2006). In May and July of 2012, Jonathan McDaniel, David DeShields, and John Martin, all inmates at the State Reformatory in LaGrange, Kentucky, and all serving sentences for felony sex offenses, filed very similar pro se motions in their respective trial courts challenging the legality of the conditional discharge requirement and seeking to have the discharge period deleted from their sentences. All three trial courts denied the motion, and all three defendants appealed. In each case, the trial court, although having denied the defendant's request for Department of Public Advocacy (DPA) assistance in the trial court with the motion itself, granted his request for DPA assistance on appeal. The Court of Appeals consolidated the three cases; denied DPA's request to be allowed to withdraw; and ultimately, although for reasons having little to do with the issues raised in the trial courts, affirmed the trial court's ruling in each case. We granted the defendants' joint motion for discretionary review to address their concern that the Court of Appeals inappropriately characterized their trial court motions as having been brought pursuant to Kentucky Rule of Criminal Procedure (RCr) 11.42, and to address our own concern that the Court of Appeals, perhaps in its eagerness to try to calm the waters after the 2011 amendment to KRS 532.043, inappropriately ruled on a question not properly before it. Our review strengthening rather than allaying these concerns, we affirm the Court of Appeals' ultimate affirmance of the trial court rulings denying relief, but “vacate” the Court of Appeals' opinion except as to the issue of whether Martin's and McDaniel's guilty pleas were subject to appellate review.

RELEVANT FACTS

Although the procedural history of this case, particularly the effect of appointed counsel's involvement once DPA was belatedly enlisted in the cause, is most germane to the issues before us, we necessarily begin with brief accounts of the three defendants' cases. In March 2010, Jonathan McDaniel pled guilty in the Calloway Circuit Court to one count of first-degree sex abuse, victim under twelve (KRS 510.110 ), a class C felony that McDaniel committed on or about May 19, 2009. In its May 2010 Final Judgment, after previously accepting McDaniel's plea bargain, the trial court sentenced McDaniel to six years' imprisonment, subject to the mandatory five-year conditional discharge period in KRS 532.043.

David DeShields pled guilty in the McCracken Circuit Court in September 2010 to two counts of first-degree sex abuse, victim under twelve, for crimes committed in June and October of 2009. The trial court's November 2010 Final Judgment reflected DeShields's plea bargain and sentenced DeShields to two six-year terms of imprisonment, the two terms to run concurrently. Among other consequences of a sex offense, such as treatment and registration requirements, the Judgment also noted the five-year conditional discharge requirement.

In January 2011, John Martin pled guilty in the Anderson Circuit Court to six counts of first-degree sex abuse, to two counts of second-degree sodomy (KRS 510.080, a class C felony), and to one count each of second and third-degree rape (KRS 510.050, Class C felony, and 510.060, Class D felony). The crimes were committed against a single victim and spanned the years 2001 to 2007, with at least two of the crimes having been committed after July 2006, when the General Assembly increased the conditional discharge period from three years to five. The trial court's April 2011 Final Judgment incorporates Martin's plea bargain for concurrent sex-abuse and sodomy sentences together with consecutive rape sentences for a total sentence of twenty-three years' imprisonment. As do the others, Martin's Final Judgment also notes the five-year conditional discharge requirement.

As noted above, the defendants all were incarcerated at the LaGrange Reformatory, and the motions they each file d seeking to have the conditional discharge portion of their sentences removed are similar enough to suggest that they all worked from the same template or had the assistance of the same “legal aide.” They challenged the conditional discharge requirement on a number of grounds (not all of which are stated with the utmost clarity), but principally (1) as a sentence “enhancement” imposed on the basis of judicial fact-finding in violation of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S.Ct. 2348, 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000), which generally requires the jury to find any fact that will allow an “enhanced” or “aggravated” sentence;1 (2) as a judicially imposed harsher sentence than the sentence bargained for with the Commonwealth, contrary to Bailey v. Commonwealth, 70 S.W.3d 414 (Ky.2002) (construing KRS 532.070, which allows trial court amelioration of jury-imposed sentences the court believes too harsh);2 and (3) as a “second” sentence for the given crime, in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution, which clause generally forbids that crimes be punished more than once.3

When their respective trial courts rejected these challenges and denied their motions to amend their sentences, the defendants filed notices of appeal, and each, as noted, was granted DPA assistance. DPA's motion in the Court of Appeals to be relieved of that responsibility can fairly be interpreted as DPA's assertion that the appeals, and the trial court motions underlying them, were meritless.4 The Court of Appeals, however, hopeful that DPA briefing would shed light on an “issue of first impression” before the Court—“a legal challenge to the conditional discharge provision of KRS 532.043 ”—denied DPA's request to withdraw.5 Order, No. 2012–CA–001172–MR (Oct. 24, 2012).

DPA then duly filed briefs on behalf of Martin, McDaniel, and DeShields, but (not surprisingly, perhaps, given DPA's apparent assessment of the defendants' trial court motions) the arguments DPA raised on appeal did not have much to do with the issues addressed by the trial courts. Instead, after DPA entered the case, Martin's and McDaniel's claims that their trial courts had sentenced them beyond their plea bargains morphed into claims that, because those two defendants were unaware when they entered their pleas of the conditional discharge portion of their sentences, their pleas were involuntary and thus invalid.

DPA's main argument, an argument it made on behalf of all three defendants, had even less to do with the defendants' original motions. An understanding of this argument requires a brief discussion of KRS 532.043 (2006), the conditional discharge statute. As noted already, that statute provided that persons convicted of certain specified offenses, including felony sex offenses, shall serve, in addition to their ordinary term-of-years sentences, an additional period of conditional discharge. When the statute first came into effect in 1998, the discharge period was three years. Effective as of July 2006, the General Assembly increased the discharge period to five years.

As originally conceived by the General Assembly, conditional discharge was a sort of probation/parole hybrid. Like parole, the defendant's discharge came after judicial proceedings had ceased and jurisdiction expired, and the conditions of discharge were specified by the Department of Corrections. KRS 532.043(3) (2006). As with probation, however, revocation proceedings were assigned to prosecutors and the courts. KRS 532.043(5) (2006).

In 2010, in Jones v. Commonwealth, 319 S.W.3d 295 (Ky.2010), in response to a separation of powers issue raised by DPA, this Court held that that hybrid approach violated our Kentucky Constitution's strong separation of powers provisions by involving the courts—the judicial branch—in the Department of Corrections'—the executive branch's—affairs. While [t]he General Assembly can,” we explained, “consistent with the separation of powers doctrine, create a form of conditional release with terms and supervision by the executive branch[,] ... the statutory scheme runs afoul of the separation of powers doctrine when revocation is the responsibility of the judiciary.” 319 S.W.3d at 299–300.

In response to Jones, in 2011 the General Assembly, as part of the massive House Bill 463, changed the name from “conditional discharge” to “postincarceration supervision,” and amended subsection 5 of KRS 532.043 to provide for Parole Board, rather than judicial, oversight of revocations. By early 2012 the Department of Corrections had issued regulations governing postincarceration supervision revocation proceedings, including regulations—501 Kentucky Administrative Regulations (KAR) 1:070 —devoted to sex offender revocation proceedings.

In its briefs on behalf of Martin, McDaniel, and...

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