Haire v. State

In Haire v. State, 877 P.2d 1302 (Alaska App. 1994), the problem presented was that the superior court wrongly concluded that the State v. Andrews, 707 P.2d 900, 913 (Alaska App. 1985) benchmark limited the individual sentences that could be imposed for each of Haire's sexual offenses, but that the Andrews benchmark did not limit Haire's composite sentence -- thus allowing the court to impose consecutive sentences that exceeded the Andrews benchmark. (The superior court's mistaken analysis of this point of law is quoted in Haire, 877 P.2d at 1305.) In our decision in Haire, this Court explained that the Andrews benchmark applied to a defendant's composite term of imprisonment -- the total term of imprisonment that the defendant received for all counts. Here is our discussion of this point -- with the sentence that Carr now relies on presented in italics: The sentencing court was mistaken in its apparent belief that consecutive terms of up to fifteen years per count ... would fall within the Andrews benchmark range. The benchmark specified in Andrews was not meant to apply on a count-by-count basis. In Andrews, this court recognized a benchmark sentencing range of ten to fifteen years to serve for first offenders convicted of aggravated instances of child sexual abuse. We defined an "aggravated" case as one in which the defendant had abused multiple victims, had committed multiple assaults on a single victim, or had inflicted serious injury to one or more victims. Andrews, 707 P.2d at 913. The Andrews benchmark was thus meant to indicate the appropriate range for the total sentence that would ordinarily be justified for a first offender convicted in an aggravated case of first-degree sexual assault or abuse. Here, although the sentencing court evidently believed that the sentences it imposed fell within the Andrews benchmark range, Haire's composite term of twenty-five years with two years suspended significantly exceeds that range. Haire, 877 P.2d at 1305-06. In other words, when the Court said in Haire that the Andrews benchmark limited a defendant's "total sentence", the Court was explaining that Haire's sentencing judge was wrong in thinking that Andrews only limited a defendant's individual sentences on separate counts of sexual abuse, and that the Andrews benchmark did not limit a defendant's composite sentence.