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State v. Tiernan
Rhode Island Supreme Court
645 A.2d 482 (1994)
David Tiernan (defendant) initially pled innocence to charges of molesting a child and stood trial. His victim, a little girl, had to testify about what Tiernan did to her. The jury convicted. Afterward Tiernan indicated he would appeal. At sentencing, Tiernan claimed his background, his clean prior record, and the nature of the crime justified a sentence involving treatment and counseling instead of prison. The trial judge sentenced Tiernan to 20 years, eight in prison and 12 suspended, citing the standard five factors, “the nature of the offense and the offender, punishment, rehabilitation and deterrence.” The judge explained that punishment and deterrence were most important because treatment would not work unless Tiernan acknowledged guilt, yet he had continued protesting his innocence. Tiernan moved to reduce his sentence. At the hearing, Tiernan admitted guilt and professed remorse, claiming that his own childhood molestation kept him from acknowledging his crime. After the victim’s mother testified about the traumatic effects the molestation and trial had on her daughter, the judge denied Tiernan’s motion. The judge said Tiernan had made the girl testify and then asserted his right to appeal knowing her statements were true. Tiernan appealed, arguing that the judge penalized Tiernan with a longer sentence for invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and exercising his Sixth Amendment right to stand trial.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Weisberger, Acting C.J.)
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