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Jeter v. State

Court of Appeals of Alaska

July 10, 2015

Darien L. Jeter, Appellant,
v.
State of Alaska, Appellee

Trial Court Case # 3AN-11-12939CR.

Before: Chief Judge Mannheimer and Judges Allard and Hanley, pro tem[*].

ORDER

Petition for Rehearing

The Appellant, Darien Jeter, seeks rehearing of our decision in his case: Jeter v. State, Alaska App. Memorandum Opinion No. 6187, (May 20, 2015), 2015 WL 2453715.

Jeter's case is a sentence appeal in which he argues that he received an excessive sentence when the superior court revoked his probation from a vehicle theft that he committed in 2012. Jeter's probation was revoked because he committed a new crime (second-degree theft) in 2013.

As we noted in our earlier decision, in addition to the probation revocation sentence that Jeter challenged on appeal, he received a separate sentence for the 2013 felony, and he also received a third sentence because his probation was revoked in a previous felony case from 2011.

Under current Alaska case law, the alleged excessiveness of the sentence that Jeter received when his 2012 probation was revoked could not be evaluated without also considering the two other sentences he received. So, in our decision, we cautioned the defense bar " that, in future cases, we may decline to hear sentence appeals if the defense does not provide us with the record of all the pertinent court proceedings. We will not allow defendants to challenge individual portions of a composite sentence as excessive."

Jeter now asks us to reconsider, or at least clarify, this language.

Jeter points out that, traditionally, the phrase " composite sentence" has been used to describe the total sentence that a defendant receives for two or more convictions in the same court case. Alaska law provides that if a defendant challenges the sentence that was imposed for two or more criminal convictions, it is normally the composite sentence that matters: the appellate court will assess whether the defendant's combined sentence is clearly mistaken, given the whole of the defendant's conduct and history. Tickett v. State, 334 P.3d 708, 713 (Alaska App. 2014).[1] In these situations, the law " [does] not require that each specific sentence imposed for a particular count or offense be individually justifiable as if that one crime were considered in isolation." Brown v. State, 12 P.3d 201, 210 (Alaska App. 2000).

But this Court has employed the phrase " composite sentence" in a broader sense in cases where a defendant's probation is revoked based on the defendant's commission of a new crime. In such cases, we have applied the same rule that applies when a defendant receives multiple sentences in a single case: we have treated the defendant's sentence for the new crime and the defendant's probation revocation sentence as one composite sentence, and we have then evaluated

Page 569

the appropriateness of that composite sentence in light of the totality of the defendant's conduct and background. See Steve v. State, 875 P.2d 110, 126 (Alaska App. 1994); Moya v. State, 769 P.2d 447, 449 (Alaska App. 1989); Betzner v. State, 768 P.2d 1150, 1157 (Alaska App. 1989).

This approach seems particularly appropriate because, under Alaska's sentencing statutes, when a defendant who is on probation commits a new crime, the sentence for the new crime and any probation revocation sentence for the previous crime must be imposed consecutively. See AS 12.55.127(a), as interpreted in Smith v. State, 187 P.3d 511, 514-15 (Alaska App. 2008).

But in his petition for rehearing, Jeter points out that, often, not all of the pertinent sentences will be appealable, due to the limits on the right of sentence appeal codified in Alaska Appellate Rule 215(a). In light of this, Jeter asks whether a defendant must actually try to appeal all of the pertinent sentences -- or whether it is sufficient that the ...


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