Archive for Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Appeals court rules judge too lenient in sentencing

August 10, 2005

The Kansas Court of Appeals on Friday found a Douglas County judge was too lenient when she gave lightened sentences to two men who raped a 13-year-old girl.

The court found Judge Paula Martin's sentences in the cases of William N. Haney, Lawrence, and Brian K. Ussery, Tonganoxie, were "an abuse of judicial discretion" and ordered that the men be sentenced again.

The decision brought tears of relief to the victim's mother, who helped lead an unsuccessful effort to vote Judge Paula Martin off the bench last fall.

One of Judge Martin's supporters responded by saying that even though Martin's critics may be right about this case, they were wrong to seek her removal from the bench after an unpopular decision.

"I'm not going to take issue with the court of appeals on their judgment, and I'm sure that the judge will take their opinion into account as she looks at the case again," said lawyer Dan Watkins, who led a group supporting Martin in the November election. "There's two issues here: Was the decision right under the law, number one, and number two, if it was wrong, does that mean the judge should be removed? Their solution was that she should be removed. We thought that was not appropriate."

Haney and Ussery were convicted of having sex with the intoxicated teen in June 2003 after a night of drinking at a central Lawrence apartment. In Kansas, sex with a child younger than 14 is automatically classified as rape, and it normally carries a minimum penalty of about 13 years.

Martin revoked probation for Haney in April, based on a long list of probation violations in the past year. He is now serving a 30-month prison sentence.

Ussery remains on probation.

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