CHUUK STATE SUPREME COURT TRIAL DIVISION

Cite as Chuuk v. Inos, 15 FSM Intrm. 259 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2007)

[15 FSM Intrm. 259]

CHUUK STATE,

Plaintiff,

vs.

OCHY INOS,

Defendant.

CRIMINAL CASE NO. 03-2007

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTíS MOTION FOR REDUCTION OF SENTENCE

Camillo Noket

Chief Justice

Decided: September 4, 2007

APPEARANCE:

For the Defendant:  Fredrick A. Hartman

                                Office of the Public Defender

                                 P.O. Box 754

                                 Weno, Chuuk  FM  96942

* * * *

HEADNOTES

Criminal Law and Procedure ) Motions

      Failure to timely oppose a motion is deemed a consent to that motion, but a court still needs proper grounds before it can grant an unopposed motion. Chuuk v. Inos, 15 FSM Intrm. 259, 261 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2007).

Criminal Law and Procedure ) Sentencing

      An original sentence is to be one which the sentencing court has considered carefully and has concluded fits the offender as well as the offense. The sentencing should be individualized, and the overall objective is to make the punishment fit the offender as well as the offense. The sentencing courtís focus at all times must be on the defendant, the defendantís background and potential, and the nature of the offense. Chuuk v. Inos, 15 FSM Intrm. 259, 261 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2007).

Criminal Law and Procedure ) Sentencing ) Reduction of Sentence

      Criminal Rule 35(b) provides for judicial discretion to reduce a sentence upon a timely motion. However, any change in the original sentence will not be lightly won by a convicted party because a court should not change a sentence when nothing is shown to justify a reduced sentence that was not already considered by the court when the original sentence was fixed. Chuuk v. Inos, 15 FSM Intrm. 259, 261 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2007).

[15 FSM Intrm 260]

Criminal Law and Procedure ) Sentencing ) Reduction of Sentence

      A motion for reduction of sentence will be denied when the original sentence was not unduly severe, when no reason appeared for the court to change its mind, and when nothing is presented that was not already considered at the time the sentence was imposed. Chuuk v. Inos, 15 FSM Intrm. 259, 261 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2007).

Criminal Law and Procedure ) Sentencing ) Reduction of Sentence

      A motion to reduce a sentence will be denied when the defendant was sentenced to incarceration for six years, four years less than the maximum sentence, and was, on its face, not unduly severe for the crime of manslaughter and when the mitigating factors were all considered in his original sentence. Chuuk v. Inos, 15 FSM Intrm. 259, 261 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2007).

Criminal Law and Procedure ) Homicide; Criminal Law and Procedure ) Sentencing

       A sentence of six years incarceration is not unduly severe on a manslaughter conviction. It may even be considered lenient. Chuuk v. Inos, 15 FSM Intrm. 259, 261 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2007).

* * * *

COURTíS OPINION

CAMILLO NOKET, Chief Justice:

      On August 3, 2007, Ochy Inos filed his Motion for Reduction of Sentence with Points and Authorities. The motion was not opposed. The Court denies the motion for the reasons set forth by this Order.

Defendant Ochy Inosís Sentence

      The parties jointly entered a plea agreement on June 7, 2007. According to the agreement, Defendant Inos pleaded guilty to the count of manslaughter in Plaintiffís criminal information against him. In exchange, the Government dismissed with prejudice the remaining charges of murder and aggravated assault.

      A Pre-sentence Investigation Report was filed by the court probation officer on July 13, 2007. The report provides an extensive background of Inos including his family and dependents, his education, employment status, health condition, Defendantís and the Plaintiffís versions of the offense, the status of any attempts at customary apology to the victimís family, the viewpoints of Inosís and the victimís family members regarding the offense and Inos personally, community perceptions of the offense, and Inosís prior criminal record. The report concludes with the probation officerís evaluative summary and recommendation.

      On July 17, 2007, after review of the Pre-sentencing Report and taking into consideration the recommendations of counsel, the Court sentenced Inos to six (6) years of imprisonment followed by one (1) year of probation, the term of the sentence to commence at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, July 28, 2007.

Ochy Inosís Motion for Reduction of Sentence

      Inosís Motion for Reduction of Sentence was timely filed. In his motion, Inos requests, pursuant to Criminal Rule 35(b), that the Court modify his sentence from incarceration for six (6) years to three (3) years with the remainder of his sentence to be served under probation with prescribed conditions. In his Points and Authorities, Inos further states that there was a request on July 27, 2007 from the

[15 FSM Intrm 261]

General Manager of AWM, Incorporated ("AWM"), which is a local business, requesting that Inos be allowed to work for AWM during his incarceration under the supervision of the General Manager. The reasons given in support of the requested modification to Inosís sentence are that the sentence is long and that Inosís family relies on him for financial support.

The Law

      Inosís motion for reduction of sentence is unopposed by the Government. Failure to timely oppose a motion is deemed a consent to that motion, but a court still needs proper grounds before it can grant an unopposed motion. Marar v. Chuuk, 9 FSM Intrm. 313, 314 (Chk. 2000).

      Generally, an original sentence is to be one which the sentencing court has considered carefully and has concluded fits the offender as well as the offense. Cheida v. FSM, 9 FSM Intrm. 183, 187 (App. 1999). The sentencing should be individualized, and "the overall objective is to make the punishment fit the offender as well as the offense." Id. The sentencing courtís focus at all times must be on the defendant, the defendantís background and potential, and the nature of the offense. Id.

       Inos correctly invokes the authority of CSSC Criminal Rule 35(b), which provides for judicial discretion to reduce a sentence upon a timely motion. However, "any change in [the original] sentence will not be lightly won" by a convicted party. Id. A court should not change a sentence "where nothing is shown to justify a reduced sentence that was not already considered by the court when the original sentence was fixed." FSM v. Akapito, 11 FSM Intrm. 298, 300 (Chk. 2002); 3 Charles Alan Wright, Federal Practice and Procedure ß 586, at 401-04 (2d ed. 1982). Therefore, a motion for reduction of sentence will be denied when the original sentence was not unduly severe, when no reason appeared for the court to change its mind, and when nothing is presented now that was not already considered at the time the sentence was imposed. Id.

       The maximum penalty for violation of section 416 of the Chuuk State Criminal Code, Chk. S.L. No. 191-26, ß 1, is ten years. Inos was sentenced to incarceration for six years, four years less than the maximum sentence. On its face, a six year sentence for the crime of manslaughter is not unduly severe. Mitigating factors such as Inosís willingness to plead guilty, his familial obligations, the extent of his attempt at a customary apology, his prior record and his value to the community were all considered in his original sentence.

Conclusion

       Inosís Motion neither presents any reasons to the Court that would change its mind as to the original sentence, nor presents any new information from that considered by the Court in determining Inosís original sentence. Finally, a sentence of six years incarceration is not unduly severe on a manslaughter conviction. It may even be considered lenient. Therefore, the Court finds no grounds to modify Ochy Inosís sentence.

* * * *