by Max Brantley
Westside school shooter Mitchell Johnson, who was sentenced to 12 years in 2008 for credit card theft after a guilty plea, can appeal the sentence, the state Supreme Court has ruled.
Though a judge, not a jury, set the sentence after a plea, the Court said Johnson should have the opportunity to argue that the court improperly considered his juvenile record, showed bias and gave him a disproportionate sentence. Johnson was released from custody in the 1998 Westside shootings in 2005 at age 21, the maximum he could be held for juvenile offenses.
PS -- A lawyer and former prosecutor says this case is new law with significance beyond Johnson's sentence. He predicts more appeals from guilty pleas that seemingly ended cases and quotes from the decision:
Therefore, we conclude that an appeal may be taken after a guilty plea when it alleges evidentiary errors which arose after the plea and during the sentencing phase, regardless of whether or not a jury was impaneled for that phase of trial.