New hearing ordered for woman sentenced to prison without aid of attorney

New hearing ordered for woman sentenced to prison without aid of attorney

When Tashina Abraham-Medved appeared in a Roberts County courtroom to be sentenced for felony drug ingestion in April of 2022, her lawyer asked to be removed from the case.

That court-appointed attorney, Robert Doody, said there had been a “serious communication breakdown” between himself and his client.

Judge Jon Flemmer denied the request and sent Abraham-Medved to prison.

On Thursday, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled that the judge made the wrong call on Doody’s request for removal. On a 5-0 vote, the justices overturned Abraham-Medved’s five-year sentence and ordered a new sentencing take place.

The decision was largely tied to the fact that Abraham-Medved had to argue on her own behalf during sentencing. Her crime carries a presumption of probation in South Dakota, and she asked for a sentence of treatment and supervision.

Doody said only that he “believed” his client wanted a suspended execution of sentence, meaning she would only serve prison time if she failed to abide by the terms of her probation.

Because of her record in Minnesota and her failure to appear at previous hearings and keep in contact with Doody, though, Flemmer sentenced her to five years in prison with two suspended.

Abraham-Medved is currently on parole for that sentence.

The state’s high court concluded that Judge Flemmer’s failure to explore the nature of the “serious communication breakdown” and his conclusion that Abraham-Medved didn’t need a lawyer at the final stage of the case were errors too significant to let the sentence stand.

Notably, Justice Patricia DeVaney wrote for the court, Flemmer expressed a willingness to consider probation and treatment “had those arrangements been made or presented as a viable option.”

“Here, in light of the court’s comments and Doody’s deficient performance, which left Abraham-Medved to fend for herself, we cannot on this record say, with confidence, that the court would have imposed the same sentence had there been some advocacy on her behalf,” DeVaney wrote for the court.

You can read the full article at South Dakota Searchlight.