A letter appeared by David Beal to which I feel compelled to respond. Mr. Beal states 25 of 30 cases on appeal have been reversed for “illegal sentences.”
First, do not be misled that 30 cases have been appealed in my career. When a case is appealed, the state sends the court a courtesy copy of the brief. I have kept all those briefs. I have 97 briefs in my office. So, if 25 cases have been reversed as “illegal,” 72 have been affirmed.
Second, Mr. Beal’s letter prompted me to do my own search of appellate records. To get to 25 cases he calls an “illegal sentence” he includes the imposition of a $60 state assessment and/or attorney fees which were assigned in error. In other cases, a condition of probation needed to be modified. These cases were remanded to correct the error, not reversed. The convictions were not overturned.
Third, when Mr. Beal states it is always the defense appealing a ruling, that is the nature of the appellate practice. As any criminal law attorney will tell you, very few appeals are filed by the state. Finally, statistics always need context. In a given year a very conservative estimate of the number of criminal cases I handle is roughly 700. I have the largest volume court in this county and have presided over more jury trials in the past 12 years than any other judge.
So, in 12 years I have handled conservatively 8,400 criminal cases. Therefore, even if you accept Mr. Beal’s statistics as accurate, that is a .0029 percent rate of error. I will let you evaluate his assertion “she errs regularly.”
Circuit Court Judge