Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The Handwriting is on the Wall

Judge Batts, of the Southern District of New York, offers her view of Blakely's impact on the Guidelines in a passage from US v. Gonzalez, 2004 US Dist LEXIS 11760:

"Needless to say, Blakely calls into serious question the long-standing practices of federal courts in implementing the United States Sentencing Guidelines, wherein courts, applying a preponderance of the evidence standard of proof, apply offense [*5] level enhancements that result in more severe sentences on the basis of facts which were neither submitted to a jury nor allocuted to by the defendants themselves, or, as the Majority phrased it in Blakely, "based not on facts proved to his peers beyond a reasonable doubt, but on facts extracted after trial from a report compiled by a probation officer who the judge thinks more likely got it right than got it wrong." Blakely, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4573, 2004 WL 1402697, at *8. While the majority opinion in Blakely, in a dismissive footnote, denies that Blakely is directed at the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, n1 this Court agrees with Justice O'Connor who, in her dissent, said "the structure of the Federal Guidelines likewise does not, as the Government half-heartedly suggests, provide any grounds for distinction ... If anything, the structural differences that do exist make the Federal Guidelines more vulnerable to attack." Blakely, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4573, 2004 WL 1402697, at *16 (O'Connor, J., dissenting). The Court feels that to ignore the handwriting on the wall would be to the peril of the sentencing process."

Correction:: many thanks to the reader who corrected my mistake on the cite for this case.

Comments:
The citation to United States v. Gonzales has an extra "0" in the 2004. The correct cite should be 2004 US Dist LEXIS 11760. Thought it might be helpful for someone else trying to find the case.
 
Thanks for the correction.
 
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