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State v. Jones

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

April 1, 2015

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
MICHAEL L. JONES

Page 218

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 219

APPEAL FROM CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH. NO. 493-863, SECTION " B" . Honorable Tracey Flemings-Davillier, Judge.

Leon A. Cannizzaro, Jr., District Attorney, Scott G. Vincent, Assistant District Attorney, Parish of Orleans, New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE/STATE OF LOUISIANA.

Katherine M. Franks, LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT, Abita Springs, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.

(Court composed of Judge Dennis R. Bagneris, Sr., Judge Paul A. Bonin, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano).

OPINION

PAUL A. BONIN, J.

Page 220

[2014-1118 La.App. 4 Cir. 1] Michael Jones appeals his adjudication as a fourth-felony offender under the Habitual Offender Law, La. R.S. 15:529.1, and the ensuing imposition of the statutorily-mandated sentence of life imprisonment without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. We previously affirmed his conviction and initial sentence for the underlying felony offenses of simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. See State v. Jones, 12-0510 (La.App. 4 Cir. 6/12/13), 119 So.3d 859. Mr. Jones filed a pro se brief as well as a brief written by appointed appellate counsel.

Through his pro se brief, Mr. Jones assigns three errors pertaining to his adjudication as a fourth-felony offender. First, Mr. Jones claims that this adjudication should be invalidated because he was neither informed of, nor effectively waived his right to remain silent prior to adjudication. After our de novo review, we conclude that a defendant need not be informed of this right, however, following his decision to deny the allegations contained in a multiple bill of information and to proceed to a full adjudication by formal hearing; such [2014-1118 La.App. 4 Cir. 2] protection is only afforded those defendants choosing to confess their recidivist statuses.

Second, Mr. Jones seeks reversal of this adjudication due to the prosecution's failure to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was convicted of distribution of cocaine in 2001, noting that the prosecution introduced no fingerprint evidence and relied upon other evidence that mentioned a crime other than the one for which Mr. Jones was charged. We find no error, however, in the trial judge's supported factual finding that that Mr. Jones was convicted of this offense.

Page 221

Third, Mr. Jones contends that evidence adduced by the district attorney was insufficient because transcripts from proceedings in which Mr. Jones pled guilty to the three prior felonies were unavailable and because the district attorney utilized evidence from neighboring Jefferson Parish. Mr. Jones, however, did not preserve these arguments for appeal by written response or oral objection.

Through his counseled brief, Mr. Jones assigns a single error that his life sentence without parole is both constitutionally and morally excessive. But because, in the trial court, Mr. Jones failed to file a motion to reconsider his sentence, we conclude that he is precluded from raising this objection on appeal and will not consider it.

[2014-1118 La.App. 4 Cir. 3] Accordingly, after conducting an errors patent review,[1] we affirm the adjudication of Mr. Jones as a fourth-felony offender and the imposition of his life sentence. We explain our decision in greater detail below.

I

The district attorney alleged by multiple bill of information that Mr. Jones had been convicted of three felonies prior to Mr. Jones' commission on November 11, 2009 of the simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling, a felony offense for which he was most recently convicted. See La. R.S. 15:529.1(A)(4)(b).[2] The three prior felony, or predicate, convictions set forth in the multiple bill are:

[#x27a2] On April 25, 2005, a felony conviction (by guilty plea) for distribution of cocaine, a violation of La. R.S. 40:967(A)(1), in the 24th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson, proceedings #05-0942, with a sentence of ten years in the custody of the Department of Corrections.
[#x27a2] On August 23, 2004, a felony conviction (by guilty plea) for possession of cocaine, a violation of La. R.S. 40:967(C)(2), in the 24th Judicial [2014-1118 La.App. 4 Cir. 4] District Court for the Parish of Jefferson, proceedings #04-4572, with a sentence (as a second-felony offender) of thirty months in the custody of the Department of Corrections.
[#x27a2] On February 21, 2001, a felony conviction (by guilty plea) for distribution of cocaine, a violation of La. R.S. 40:967(A)(1), in the 24th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson, proceedings #99-2962, with a sentence ...

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