Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Daily News

The Billings Gazette writes: Court ruling raises questions about sentences. The article discusses U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull's practice of handing out backup sentences. There is also a discussion of U.S. Attorney Bill Mercer's views on the issue (Mercer testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Tuesday). Judge Cebull is quoted by the paper as saying that he believes our jury system can handle deciding sentencing factors:
Even if the Blakely ruling is construed to mean that a jury must find every fact upon which a sentenced is increased under the guidelines, Cebull said, "Our jury system is so good, jurors can do this.''

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports: Judge postpones fraud sentencing. From the article:
U.S. District Judge David Larimer said he expects the Supreme Court to return and decide whether its June decision — Blakely v. State of Washington — means that federal sentencing mandates are now unconstitutional.
An interesting article from yesterday's The Recorder is out there entitled, "Family affair - Breyer to head sentencing study." I have not found a free copy of the story but having read it I can report that U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer has been asked to head a Ninth Circuit committee to explore federal sentencing reforms in light of Blakely. And, in what appears to be the first word from the 9th Cir. (albeit outside the courtroom), Chief Judge Mary Schroeder is on the record as stating that sentencing reform is now "essential," suggesting that a "complete restructuring" may be appropriate.

Finally, the best story of the day comes from The Miami Daily Business Review which has an article entitled, "Federal Judge in Miami Rules Sentencing Guidelines Unconstitutional." The article discusses yesterday's ruling in US v. King, as well as a district court en banc request to sort out Blakely issues which may make some sense given that in addition to a circuit split, district courts are now starting to diverge.

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