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Court didn’t rely on inaccurate info at sentencing and wasn’t biased

State v. Alexandrea C.E. Throndson, 2020AP1081-CR, District 4, 7/15/21 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Throndson raises two due process challenges to her sentencing: that the judge relied on inaccurate information and was objectively based. The court of appeals rejects both.

Both claims arise out of the circuit court’s independent review of her prior record on CCAP before sentencing, where the judge discovered she was involved in 23 various cases. (¶4). The inaccurate information claim appears to be that the circuit court erroneously thought she had three prior juvenile delinquency adjudications, when in fact she had only one. But the record belies this claim, and indeed she was given, and her trial lawyer made able use of, the opportunity to clarify what her record was. (¶¶6, 11-12, 17-19). Thus, she hasn’t any inaccurate information the court relied on and her claim fails

Her objective bias claim likewise points to the judge’s independent record research, and appears to be limited to the fact the circuit court found she had a delinquency adjudication. (¶22). To the extent it encompasses the circuit court’s independent research into her record generally, the court of appeals finds the law is not entirely clear on how far a court can go in investigating facts for use at sentencing. (¶¶24-25). But it doesn’t need to clarify the law, as the circuit court’s limited review in this case (and, no doubt, the fact that a PSI was prepared, that Throndson’s lawyer clarified her record at her sentencing, and that the circuit court held a second sentencing hearing to further clarify the issue) leaves the court of appeals with no doubt the circuit court didn’t violate Throndson’s due process rights. (¶¶11-14, 23-28).

Throndson separately claims the circuit court was biased by referring to her as “playing the race card” by telling the PSI writer that her family treated her unfairly because she was dating a Black man. (¶7). While the court of appeals gently chides the circuit court for using the phrase because “it is likely to be counterproductive to the goals of sentencing” (¶31), it doesn’t show the judge was biased. “It is evident from the sentencing transcripts that the court was attempting to convey the message that the time had come for Throndson to proactively take responsibility for her own actions, rather than casting aspersions elsewhere. While inartful, this isolated comment about ‘playing the race card’ does not undermine our confidence in the court’s impartiality.” (¶32).

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