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= &n= bsp; &nbs= p; = &n= bsp; ENTRY ORDER
= &n= bsp; &nbs= p; SUPREME COURT DOCKET NO. 2004-391
= &n= bsp; &nbs= p; = = FEBRUARY TERM, 2005
In re Armand Leggett, Jr.&nb= sp;  = ; &= nbsp; &nb= sp; } = APPEALED FROM:
= &n= bsp; &nbs= p; = &n= bsp; &nbs= p; } = Chittenden Superior Court
} DOCKET NO= . S1549-03 CnC
Trial Judge: Matthew= I. Katz
= ; &= nbsp; &nb= sp; In the above-entitled cause, the Clerk will enter:
Petitioner appeals the superior court’s order rejecting his claim that the Department of Corrections failed to follow its own regulations in determin= ing which version of 28 V.S.A. § 811(a) to apply in calculating auto= matic and earned reduction of term with respect to his sentence. We reverse.
In September 2003, petitioner was sentenced to six concurrent terms of two-to= -ten years after pleading guilty to six separate counts of false pretenses. The first of his six offenses occ= urred on April 4, 2000, while each of the other five occurred after July 1, 2000. In December 2003, peti= tioner filed a complaint in superior court, arguing that the Department of Correc= tions had failed to follow its own regulations by calculating his automatic and earned reduction of term based on the 2000 amendment to 28 V.S.A. § 8= 11(a) rather than the 1994 version of the statute. Petitioner prefers the 1994 versi= on because it calls for a reduction of term against both the minimum and maxi= mum terms of a sentence, while the 2000 amendment allows credit against only t= he maximum term. Thus, under th= e 1994 version, petitioner’s minimum sentence would be one year and eight m= onths rather than two years under the 2000 amendment. The superior court rejected petitioner’s complaint, ruling that there was a reasonable statutory basis for the Department’s computation.
On appeal, petitioner repeats his argument that the Department should have calculated his reduction of term under the 1994 version of § 811(a) r= ather than its 2000 amendment. We = agree. Within thirty days of sentencing,= the Department is required to provide the court with a calculation of the pote= ntial shortest and longest sentence taking into account, among other things, reductions in term under 28 V.S.A. § 811. 13 V.S.A. § 7044. Between 1994 and 2000, § 811= (a) allowed each inmate the opportunity to earn “a reduction of five day= s in the minimum and maximum terms of confinement” for each month that the inmate followed the rules of the penal institution, but under the 2000 amendment, each inmate is eligible to earn five days per month only “= ;in the maximum term of confinement.”&n= bsp; Anticipating issues arising over when to apply the different versio= ns of § 811(a), the Department’s Sentence Computation Guidebook provi= des as follows:
CASES WHERE OFFENDER IS INCARCERATED UNDER MORE THAN ONE REDUCTION OF TERM SYSTE= MS:
Look to the date of the controlling sentence; check the affidavit, DDR’s = or other supporting documents to determine the date(s) of the offense(s). If at least one offense occurred = before July 1, 1994, the offender is to be awarded reduction of term under the old system (10 days per month ART, up to 5 days per month ERT deducted from bo= th minimum and maximum). If = at least one crime was committed between July 1, 1994 and before July, 1, 200= 0, and none prior to July 1, 1994, the offender is to be awarded reduction in= term under the 1994 system (5 days ART, up to 10 days ERT deducted from both mi= nimum and maximum). If the cri= me(s) of the controlling sentence was (were) committed on or after July 1, 2000,= the offender is to be awarded reduction of term under the 2000 system (5 days = ART and up to 10 days ERT deducted from maximum only).
Dept. of Corrections, Sentence Computation Guidebook 16 (2000) [hereinaft= er Guidebook] (Underlined for emphasis).
situation in this case appears to fall squarely within the underlined sent=
above because petitioner committed at least one of his crimes between July=
1994 and July 1, 2000, but none before July 1, 1994. The superior court rejected this =
however, based on the State’s argument that the Legislature intended
offenders who receive concurrent sentences for multiple crimes to serve the
longest possible minimum and maximum sentences. The State argues as follows. Under 13 V.S.A. § 7032(c)(1)=
terms of imprisonment “run concurrently, the shorter minimum terms m=
in and are satisfied by serving the longest minimum.” This legislative command is adopt=
the Department’s Sentence Computation Guidebook, which provides that
“the effective minimum [for concurrent sentences] is, essentially, t=
longest minimum imposed on any of the multiple sentences.” Guidebook, at 16. The Guid=
explains that the effective sentence is “the single sentence arrived=
after computations are made in regard to the individual sentences
According to the State, because t=
sentence for the petitioner’s April 4, 2000 offense would be less th=
the other five in the event the 1994 reduction of term were applied, the 2=
reduction of term must be applied to comply with the Legislative mandate r=
inmates to serve the longest minimum.
decline to accept this circular reasoning.
The legislative mandate of § 7032(c)(1) was satisfied at the t=
of sentencing when the court merged the minimum and maximum terms of each
offense and sentenced petitioner to a single concurrent sentence of two-to=
years. In this case, the sen=
for each of the offenses was the same—a two-year minimum and a ten-y=
maximum; therefore the effective concurrent sentence was two-to-ten years.=
Section 7032(c)(1) having been
satisfied, a completely independent question arises as to what reduction of
term is appropriate. The
Department’s Sentence Computation Guidebook provides that reduction =
term is calculated by looking at the date of the controlling sentence and
checking the dates of the offenses.
By way of explanation, the guidebook provision sets forth three
scenarios for calculating which version of § 811(a) to apply.
Reversed. The Department of Corrections is directed to apply the 1994 version of 28 V.S.A. § 811(a) in calculati= ng earned and automatic reduction of term with respect to petitioner’s sentences.
BY THE COURT:
Paul L. Reiber, Chief Justi= ce
John A. Dooley, Associate Justice
Frederic W. Allen, Chief Ju= stice (Ret.),