Robinson v. State, No. 45S03-0307-PC-314.

Docket NºNo. 45S03-0307-PC-314.
Citation805 N.E.2d 783
Case DateMarch 10, 2004
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

805 N.E.2d 783

Jesse E. ROBINSON, Appellant (Plaintiff below),
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Defendant below)

No. 45S03-0307-PC-314.

Supreme Court of Indiana.

March 10, 2004.


805 N.E.2d 785
Jesse E. Robinson, Appellant Pro Se

Steve Carter, Attorney General of Ind., Zachary J. Stock, Deputy Attorney General, Attorneys for Appellee.

John F. Sievers, Chairman, Stephen J. Johnson, Exec. Dir., Ind. Prosecuting Attorneys Council, Larry Landis, Exec. Dir., Ind. Public Defender Council, Amici Curiae.

805 N.E.2d 784
DICKSON, Justice

Upon his 1986 jury verdict and conviction for attempted murder, the defendant, Jesse E. Robinson, was sentenced to a term of thirty years. The judgment was affirmed on direct appeal. Robinson v. State, 525 N.E.2d 605 (Ind.1988). In 1989 the defendant filed a pro se petition for post conviction relief (PCR) and thereafter requested and received waiver of representation by the Indiana Public Defender. The defendant withdrew his PCR petition in 1995. In 2002, he filed a motion to correct sentence asserting that the trial court's sentence improperly failed to award both credit for time served and credit time. The trial court summarily denied the motion. The Court of Appeals initially reversed this judgment. Robinson v. State, 783 N.E.2d 1206 (Ind.Ct.App. 2003). On rehearing, however, it withdrew its previous opinion and affirmed the trial court. Robinson v. State, 789 N.E.2d 965 (Ind.Ct.App.2003). Because of the need to address recurring issues regarding pre-sentence credit time and the availability of recourse to challenge its omission, we granted transfer, vacating both prior opinions of the Court of Appeals pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 58(A), and invited amicus curiae briefs. We affirm the trial court, noting that its judgment does include credit for both days spent in pre-sentence confinement and for Class I credit time earned thereby.

In this appeal from the denial of his motion to correct sentence, the defendant contends that "it is clear upon the face of the abstract of judgment that the trial court did not properly credit Robinson's sentence with time served and credit time for the 187 days of imprisonment awaiting trial or sentencing." Br. of Appellant at 4. He argues that he is entitled to a trial court judgment expressly awarding credit not only for the 187 days of imprisonment before sentencing but also for an additional equal amount of credit time for a total of 374 days of credit.

This appeal presents two questions: (1) whether the defendant may challenge the award of credit time by means of a motion to correct erroneous sentence, and (2) if so, whether the sentence in this case was erroneous for failing to award credit for both time served and credit time.

1. Motion to Correct Sentence

The defendant's motion to correct sentence derives from Indiana Code § 35-38-1-15 which provides:

If the convicted person is erroneously sentenced, the mistake does not render the sentence void. The sentence shall be corrected after written notice is given to the convicted person. The convicted person and his counsel must be present when the corrected sentence is ordered. A motion to correct sentence must be in writing and supported by a memorandum of law specifically pointing out the defect in the original sentence.

The purpose of the statute "is to provide prompt, direct access to an uncomplicated legal process for correcting the occasional erroneous or illegal sentence." Gaddie v. State, 566 N.E.2d 535, 537 (Ind.1991). In Thompson v. State, we declined to limit a defendant to the remedy provided by the Indiana Post-Conviction Rules and stated:

805 N.E.2d 786
By allowing a defendant either avenue in forwarding his sentencing error, judicial time and effort may be conserved while justice is speedily and efficiently afforded those convicted of crime. When a defendant wishes to question only the propriety of his sentence, he may utilize the vehicle of [now Indiana Code § 35-38-1-15]. This vehicle is available to a defendant whether or not a guilty plea has been filed. Of course, the defendant may also file, within sixty days of sentencing, a motion to correct errors and designate an erroneous sentence as the complained of error. But, there is nothing in the statute which should preclude a defendant from raising the issue of an erroneous sentence at a time after sixty days have elapsed.

270 Ind. 677, 679, 389 N.E.2d 274, 276 (1979).1 We held that a motion to correct sentence would not preclude the defendant from filing a later petition for post-conviction relief where warranted. Id.

When an error related to sentencing occurs, it is in the best interests of all concerned that it be immediately discovered and corrected. Other than an immediate motion to correct sentence, such errors are best presented to the trial court by the optional motion to correct error under Indiana Trial Rule 59, or upon a direct appeal from the final judgment of the trial court pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 9(A).2 See Thompson v. State, 270 Ind. 677, 679-80, 389 N.E.2d 274, 276-77 (1979). Thereafter, for claims not waived for failure to raise them by direct appeal, a defendant may seek recourse under Indiana Post-Conviction Rule 1, § 1(a)(3) by claiming "that the sentence exceeds the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise erroneous." As noted above, however, we have recognized the statutory motion to correct sentence as an alternate remedy. Mitchell v. State, 726 N.E.2d 1228, 1243 (Ind.2000); Reffett v. State, 571 N.E.2d 1227, 1228-29 (Ind.1991); Jones v. State, 544 N.E.2d 492, 496 (Ind. 1989); Gee v. State, 508 N.E.2d 787, 788 (Ind.1987); Thompson, 270 Ind. at 679-80, 389 N.E.2d at 276. A trial court's ruling on a motion to correct sentence is subject to appeal by normal appellate procedures. Thompson, 270 Ind. at 680, 389 N.E.2d at 276-77.

While the motion to correct sentence is available as an alternate remedy, we have repeatedly cautioned that it is appropriate only when the sentence is "erroneous on its face." Mitchell, 726 N.E.2d at 1243; Reffett, 571 N.E.2d at 1229; Jones, 544 N.E.2d at 496. We acknowledge that some of our decisions may not have rigorously applied the "erroneous on its face" standard. In Jones, we stated that the motion to correct sentence could be used to correct errors such as "illegal sentences in violation of express statutory authority or an erroneous interpretation of a penalty provision of a statute," but would not be available for claims raising "constitutional issues or issues concerning how the trial court weighed factors in imposing sentence." Jones, 544 N.E.2d at 496. In apparent contradiction to the facial invalidity limitation, however, this Court in Jones then proceeded to address the merits of a claim that the trial court imposed a maximum sentence in partial reliance upon

805 N.E.2d 787
invalid aggravating factors—a claim that required this Court to go beyond the face of the sentencing judgment and the applicable penalty statute. In Reffett, we permitted a motion to correct sentence, summarily reasoning that "[i]f a sentence that violates express statutory authority is facially erroneous, a sentence that violates the express terms of a plea agreement is also facially erroneous." 571 N.E.2d at 1229. And in Mitchell we addressed a double jeopardy claim presented by a motion to correct sentence, likewise summarily concluding that "[i]f a sentence violating express statutory authority is facially erroneous, a sentence violating double jeopardy is also facially erroneous." 726 N.E.2d at 1243

When claims of sentencing errors require consideration of matters outside the face of the sentencing judgment, they are best addressed promptly on direct appeal and thereafter via post-conviction relief proceedings where applicable. Use of the statutory motion to correct sentence should thus be narrowly confined to claims apparent from the face of the sentencing judgment, and the "facially erroneous" prerequisite should henceforth be strictly applied, notwithstanding Jones, Reffett, and Mitchell. We therefore hold that a motion to correct sentence may only be used to correct sentencing errors that are clear from the face of the judgment imposing the sentence in light of the statutory authority. Claims that require consideration of the proceedings before, during, or after trial may not be presented by way of a motion to correct sentence.3

In addition to limiting a motion to correct sentence to errors apparent on the face of the judgment, Indiana case law has long emphasized that "the preferred procedure is by way of a petition for post-conviction relief." Jones, 544 N.E.2d at 496. See, e.g., Reffett, 571 N.E.2d at 1228; Gee, 508 N.E.2d at 788; Hatchett v. State, 794 N.E.2d 544, 546 (Ind.Ct.App.2003); White v. State, 793 N.E.2d 1127, 1129 (Ind. Ct.App.2003); Funk v. State, 714 N.E.2d 746, 748-49 (Ind.Ct.App.1999); Poore v. State, 613 N.E.2d 478, 480 (Ind.Ct.App. 1993); Browning v. State, 576 N.E.2d 1315, 1317 (Ind.Ct.App.1991); Powell v. State, 574 N.E.2d 331, 333 (Ind.Ct.App. 1991). This emphasis that post-conviction proceedings are "preferred" for raising sentencing error should not be understood to imply that the statutory motion to correct sentence is nevertheless permissible to raise claims that are not facially evident on the judgment. It is not. This Court "tries to encourage conservation of judicial time and energy while at the same time affording speedy and efficient justice to those convicted of a crime." Reffett, 571 N.E.2d at 1229. As to sentencing claims not facially apparent, the motion to correct sentence is an improper remedy. Such claims may be raised only on direct appeal and, where appropriate, by post-conviction proceedings.

When a motion to correct sentence presents a claim that may be resolved by considering only the face of the judgment and the applicable statutory authority without reference to other matters

805 N.E.2d 788
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250 practice notes
  • State v. Clements, No. 35665.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • October 15, 2009
    ...inquiry is not permitted for a defendant's motion to correct an "erroneous sentence," under Indiana Code § 35-38-1-15. Robinson v. State, 805 N.E.2d 783, 787 (Ind.2004). The Indiana Supreme Court When claims of sentencing errors require consideration of matters outside the face of the sente......
  • McElroy v. State, No. 49S02-0605-CR-174.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • May 2, 2007
    ...because an abstract of judgment is distinct from a written sentencing order and is not the "judgment of conviction." Robinson v. State, 805 N.E.2d 783, 794 (Ind.2004). It is a "form issued by the Department of Correction and completed by trial judges for the convenience of the Department." ......
  • Hardley v. State, No. 49S05-0905-CR-209.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • May 5, 2009
    ...only when the sentencing defect is apparent on the face of the sentencing judgment, applying this Court's decision in Robinson v. State, 805 N.E.2d 783 (Ind. 2004). Finding that the claimed defect required resort to extrinsic matters, Hoggatt concluded that the State could raise its claim b......
  • Resendez v. Smith, No. 11–1121.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 20, 2012
    ...that proceedings under Ind.Code § 35–38–1–15 are distinct from various forms of post-conviction relief. See, e.g., Robinson v. State, 805 N.E.2d 783, 786 (Ind.2004); [692 F.3d 627]Thompson v. State, 270 Ind. 677, 389 N.E.2d 274, 276 (1979). He therefore submits that his motion to correct er......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
250 cases
  • State v. Clements, No. 35665.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • October 15, 2009
    ...inquiry is not permitted for a defendant's motion to correct an "erroneous sentence," under Indiana Code § 35-38-1-15. Robinson v. State, 805 N.E.2d 783, 787 (Ind.2004). The Indiana Supreme Court When claims of sentencing errors require consideration of matters outside the face of the sente......
  • McElroy v. State, No. 49S02-0605-CR-174.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • May 2, 2007
    ...because an abstract of judgment is distinct from a written sentencing order and is not the "judgment of conviction." Robinson v. State, 805 N.E.2d 783, 794 (Ind.2004). It is a "form issued by the Department of Correction and completed by trial judges for the convenience of the Department." ......
  • Hardley v. State, No. 49S05-0905-CR-209.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • May 5, 2009
    ...only when the sentencing defect is apparent on the face of the sentencing judgment, applying this Court's decision in Robinson v. State, 805 N.E.2d 783 (Ind. 2004). Finding that the claimed defect required resort to extrinsic matters, Hoggatt concluded that the State could raise its claim b......
  • Resendez v. Smith, No. 11–1121.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 20, 2012
    ...that proceedings under Ind.Code § 35–38–1–15 are distinct from various forms of post-conviction relief. See, e.g., Robinson v. State, 805 N.E.2d 783, 786 (Ind.2004); [692 F.3d 627]Thompson v. State, 270 Ind. 677, 389 N.E.2d 274, 276 (1979). He therefore submits that his motion to correct er......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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