The state Supreme Court has ordered a Putnam County man back to prison. The High Court handed down its decision Wednesday afternoon in the Joseph Lavigne case. He will not get a new trial.
Lavigne was released from prison in May 2011 after serving 15 years behind bars after being convicted in the sexual assault of his then five-year-old daughter.
(Read order here.)
Former Putnam County Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding overturned the 1996 conviction ruling there were a number or problems with Lavigne’s first trial including improper jury selection, an incorrect limit on character witnesses and insufficient evidence. The judge ordered a new trial.
Putnam County Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court. During oral arguments last month Sorsaia said he had never seen a ruling like the one Spaulding rendered.
“The state made the decision to file the appeal because after reading the circuit judge’s opinion it was arguably obvious to the state quite frankly that the Circuit Court of Putnam County imposed their personal opinions as to the facts of the case,” Sorsaia argued before the High Court.
The Supreme Court agreed. Wednesday’s written opinion says the circuit court “abused its discretion in granting a new trial to Mr. Lavigne without the proper demonstration of constitutional error.”
The High Court ordered Lavigne back to prison to serve the rest of his sentence.