Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Blacka

Supreme Court of West Virginia

June 1, 2018

STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA, Respondent
v.
GLEN EARNEST BLACKA, Petitioner

          Submitted: May 9, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Mineral County The Honorable Lynn A. Nelson, Judge Civil Action No. 15-F-86

          Ramon Rozas III, Esq. Rozas Law Office, LLC Counsel for Petitioner.

          Patrick Morrisey, Esq. Attorney General, Shannon Frederick Kiser, Esq. Assistant Attorney General, Mary M. Downey, Esq. Assistant Attorney General.

         SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

         1. "Cases involving plea agreements allegedly breached by either the prosecution or the circuit court present two separate issues for appellate consideration: one factual and the other legal. First, the factual findings that undergird a circuit court's ultimate determination are reviewed only for clear error. These are the factual questions as to what the terms of the agreement were and what was the conduct of the defendant, prosecution, and the circuit court. If disputed, the factual questions are to be resolved initially by the circuit court, and these factual determinations are reviewed under the clearly erroneous standard. Second, in contrast, the circuit court's articulation and application of legal principles is scrutinized under a less deferential standard. It is a legal question whether specific conduct complained about breached the plea agreement. Therefore, whether the disputed conduct constitutes a breach is a question of law that is reviewed de novo." Syl. Pt. 1, State ex rel. Brewer v. Starcher, 195 W.Va. 185, 465 S.E.2d 185 (1995).

         2. "When a defendant enters into a valid plea agreement with the State that is accepted by the trial court, an enforceable 'right' inures to both the State and the defendant not to have the terms of the plea agreement breached by either party." Syl. Pt. 4, State v. Myers, 204 W.Va. 449, 513 S.E.2d 676 (1998).

          3. "Whenever the State violates a sentencing neutrality provision of a plea agreement, the violation seriously affects the fairness, integrity and public reputation of the proceeding." Syl. Pt. 8, State v. Myers, 204 W.Va. 449, 513 S.E.2d 676 (1998).

         4. "When a plea agreement has been breached by the State, it is the province of this Court, or the trial court in the first instance, and not the defendant, to decide whether to grant specific performance of the plea agreement or permit withdrawal of the guilty plea." Syl. Pt. 9, State v. Myers, 204 W.Va. 449, 513 S.E.2d 676 (1998).

          WORKMAN, CHIEF JUSTICE:

         Glen Earnest Blacka (hereinafter "the petitioner") appeals an order of the Circuit Court of Mineral County, West Virginia, sentencing him to ten to twenty years for each of three sexual abuse convictions, with the sentences to be served consecutively. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the State of West Virginia (hereinafter "the State") agreed to remain silent at sentencing; however, during the sentencing hearing, the State ultimately recommended to the circuit court that consecutive sentences be imposed. Upon review of the appendix record, arguments of counsel, and applicable precedent, this Court vacates the sentencing order and remands for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         On May 4, 2015, the Mineral County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging the petitioner with multiple counts of sexual assault, incest, and sexual abuse inflicted upon his three step-daughters. The petitioner pled guilty to three counts of the felony offense of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, or custodian on October 4, 2016. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining charges and "remain silent on a recommendation at sentencing."

          Despite its agreement to remain silent, the State recommended the imposition of consecutive sentences during a February 13, 2017, sentencing hearing. The following exchange occurred at that hearing:

MR. PANCAKE [Prosecuting Attorney]: And the State is of the opinion that Mr. --
MR. ROZAS [Petitioner's Attorney]: ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.