Friday, July 30, 2004

Blakely News from Around the Country

News Stories

PR Web has an article entitled, “U.S. Supreme Court Issues Decision Predicted to 'Wreak Havoc' With Trial Courts States Prison Advocacy Attorney Isaac M. Jaroslawicz.”

Tennessee opts to let Jack help figure out the state’s guideline problems

New Cases

From the Blakely-rich state of Maine, we get United States v. Zompa, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14335 (NO. 04-46-P-S-01) (D. Me., 2004).

Chief United States District Judge George Z. Singal issued an opinion in Zompa which reminds us that Marbury v. Madison requires the “judicial department to say what the law is.” And the guidelines are not good law in his court:

In light of the Supreme Court's decision in Blakely and the circumstances presented by this case, the Court finds that any enhancement of Defendant's base offense level based on my finding as to a particular drug quantity would violate the Defendant's right to be sentenced based upon only those facts that he has admitted or that the Government has proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Moving on to the increasingly sticky severability issue, Chief Judge Singal opts to use the portions of the guidelines that are constitutional:

This Court does not believe that the Blakely decision renders the USSG completely unconstitutional. Rather, the Court concludes that the unconstitutional aspects of the Guidelines (i.e. judicial fact finding utilizing a preponderance of the evidence standard as a procedural vehicle for sentence enhancement) can be severed from the rest of the Guidelines. With these unconstitutional portions excised, the Guidelines can still serve their intended purpose of promoting honesty, uniformity and proportionality in sentencing. See Ameline, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 15031, 2004 WL at *11.

The Second Circuit recently decided US v. Jasper, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 15543 (No. 03-1720 )(2d Cir. 2004), a case involving a challenge to two guidelines enhancements. The court’s unpublished opinion states that the court will defer on the sentencing challenge until the Supreme Court decides on the circuit’s certification request. In the court's own words:

Our Circuit has recently certified to the Supreme Court several questions related to Blakely v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (June 24, 2004). We will defer consideration of Jasper's sentencing challenge pending resolution of our request for certification. Once that is resolved, we will set a timetable for further briefing, should such briefing be appropriate. All of Jasper's other arguments are unavailing, and we reject them for substantially the same reasons expressed by the district court.

News from Other Blogs

Marcia Oddi of the Indiana Law Blog has a very useful post which provides an overview of Blakely developments in the 7th Circuit and Indiana state courts. You can read what appears to be a first installment here.

Lyle Denniston takes a look at "Those other Blakely cases." The post takes a look at Bijou and Pineiro. The post also contains the following line:

His interest in cockfighting, in fact, led to his troubles with the law.

A story all too common. Very sad.

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