Tuesday, September 07, 2004
District Courts Weigh In
Some news from the district courts...
Keep the Presses Running
The Indiana Law Blog is reporting that Chief Judge Robert Miller Jr., of the U.S. District Court of Northern Indiana, will not postpone sentencing criminal defendants, despite a request from the prosecution to halt sentencing.
It’s worth a lot, to us.
Judge James B. Zagel has written an interesting (and seemingly self-deprecating) opinion in US v. Reyes-Acosta, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17635 (No. 04 CR 0126 ) (N.D. Ill.,
The central issue in the case was that Reyes-Acosta invoked Blakely as a reason for why he should be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. Judge Zagel characterizes Reyes-Acosta’s argument as follows:
The theory of the motion to withdraw is that the defendant was forced to admit to the facts of his prior conviction. If he had failed to do so, the government could contend that he had not fully accepted responsibility, which would effectively add 3 levels to his final offense total.
Judge Zagel then comments on Blakely:
It is the decision of Blakely v. Washington, 159 L. Ed. 2d 403, 124
In the end, Judge Zagel denies the motion to withdraw the plea because:
There is no claim that the prior conviction and sentence could not be conclusively proven beyond any reasonable doubt.
As the record now stands, what could have been lost here is only the chance that, out of mercy, a jury would have ignored overwhelming evidence and decided to ignore the truth. While the chance to pull the wool over a jury's eyes is inherent in the right to a jury trial, we deal here with a case in which the jury was validly waived on the question of guilt or innocence.
In Morris v. US, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17639 (C.D. Ill., 2004), US District Judge Jeanne E. Scott denied Morris’s motion to apply Blakely retroactively to Morris’s case on collateral review.