DES MOINES — An Appanoose County man will be resentenced after the Iowa Supreme Court partially vacated the appeals court’s decision.
Jonathan Weston was convicted of domestic abuse causing bodily injury. He appealed, claiming the district court improperly denied his right to allocution. Sentencing courts in Iowa are required to ask defendants whether they have any legal reason why judgement should not be given. The defendant has a right to address the court at that time. That is called the right of allocution.
In Weston’s case, the district court judge incorrectly said he did not have the right of allocution. But the judge did ask whether he knew “of any real reason why the court shouldn’t proceed to enter judgement and do sentencing today,” and Weston responded. He had also been allowed to address the court previously.
The Iowa Court of Appeals found the court mistakenly told Weston he had no right to allocution, but in later allowing Weston to speak it corrected the error. The Iowa Supreme court agreed with that reasoning.
But Weston’s claim on restitution held up to the high court. Courts are required to follow a multi-step process on determining appropriate restitution and whether a defendant can reasonably pay. The district court did not follow that procedure.
The ruling does not mean Weston will avoid restitution, but it send the issue back to the district court for proceedings in line with what the law requires.