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Global sentence under the max was neither unduly harsh nor unconscionable

State v. Paris Markese Chambers, 2019AP17-18-CR, 5/12/20, District 1 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

The State charged 17 year old Chambers with 8 crimes involving car theft, damage to property, and bail jumping across two cases. His maximum sentence exposure was 29.5 years and a $75,000 fine. The trial court imposed a global sentence of 8.5 years of initial confinement and 13.5 years extended supervision. On appeal Chambers argued that his global sentence was harsh and unconscionable.

The court of appeals began by noting that the impossibly high standard he had to meet:

[O]nly where the sentence is so excessive and unusual and so disproportionate to the offense committed as to shock public sentiment and violate the judgment of reasonable people concerning what is right and proper under the circumstances.” Ocanas v. State, 70 Wis. 2d 179, 185, 233 N.W.2d 457 (1975). Further, “[a] sentence well within the limits of the maximum sentence is unlikely to be unduly harsh or unconscionable.” State v. Scaccio, 2000 WI App 265, ¶18, 240 Wis. 2d 95, 622 N.W.2d 449. Opinion, ¶23.

At sentencing counsel argued that Chambers was just a joy-riding teenager who engaged in were low level property crimes.  This argument did not carry the day. The court of appeals summarized how the Gallion factors applied to Chamber’s individual circumstances (including his youth) and concluded:

¶33 Ultimately, the trial court focused on the need to protect the community and the public, the need to punish Chambers, the seriousness of the offenses, Chambers’ character, and deterrence. As the trial court aptly stated, “[t]hese may have been ‘lower level property crimes’ as [Chambers] suggests, but there were a lot of them, an outrageous amount of them, a completely unacceptable amount[.]” (Capitalization, bolding, and large font omitted.) The weight given to the sentencing objectives and factors is left to the trial court’s discretion. See State v. Gallion, 2004 WI 42, ¶¶17, 40, 46, 270 Wis. 2d 535, 678 N.W.2d 197. Also, as we stated, Chambers’ global sentence is well within the limits of the maximum global sentence. See Scaccio, 240 Wis. 2d 95, ¶18. Having reviewed the record and the trial court’s explanations of its sentencing decision, we are not convinced that Chambers’ global sentence shocks public sentiment. Ocanas, 70Wis. 2d at 185.


{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Christopher Kruger May 19, 2020, 10:08 am

    Criminal justice and corrections system as a substitute for social services and restorative justice for a 17-year old. Perhaps the more persuasive defense approach is to have a handy, authoritative chart and graph of the costs to the taxpayer for each case, dependent on the individual circumstances of the incarcerated individual (like special needs, illnesses, disability), and an aggregated costing of how much of a tax burden a particular judge or panel has passed down to the public by harsh sentencing, to be utilized at or near election time. That, and a predictive model of recidivism.

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