State v. Sierra

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: 08-10-2017
  • Case #: SC S064237
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Walters, J. for the Court; Balmer, C.J.; Kistler, J; Walter, J.; Landau, J.; Nakamoto, J.; & Baldwin, S.J. pro tempore.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under the Pearce/Partain vindictiveness analysis, when two different judges assess the facts of a particular case, those two different individuals reasonably may reach different conclusions about the appropriate punishment.

Defendant sought review of the Court of Appeals decision affirming the trial court’s imposition of a more severe sentence on remand for resentencing.  Defendant assigned error to the trial court's imposition of an upward durational departure sentence of 220 months on Defendant’s conviction for kidnapping in the first degree and the imposition of four 14-month consecutive sentences for counts of unlawful use of a weapon. In State v. Sierra, 349 Or 506 (2010), the Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s convictions for two counts of kidnapping in the second degree, and remanded the case to the trial court for resentencing. On appeal, Defendant argued that due process prevented the imposition of a harsher sentence and the court was required to assume the sentencing judge acted vindictively in his attempt to impose such a judgment. In response, the State argued that, because a different judge sentenced Defendant on remand, and his sentence was based on a jury’s finding of four significant enhancement factors that were not discovered in his original trial, their existence substantiated the need for a harsher punishment upon Defendant’s resentencing. Under the Pearce/Partain vindictiveness analysis, when two different judges assess the facts of a particular case, those two different individuals reasonably may reach different conclusions about the appropriate punishment.  The first step in a Pearce/Partain vindictiveness analysis is to determine whether the sentence on remand was more severe than the sentence originally imposed. The next step, in this circumstance, is to determine whether the court on remand articulated a “wholly logical, nonvindictive reason” for the more severe sentence. The Supreme Court held the discovery of the four significant enhancement factors was enough to prove the second sentencing judge acted in a nonvindictive manner when imposing an increased sentence. Affirmed.

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