Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Noteworthy News

There have been several interesting news stories the last few days on sentencing, Blakely and the Supreme Court. If you missed them, this post offers a brief round-up of several stories.

Before I get to the news stories, I should mention that the biggest news of the last few days was the filing of the respondent’s briefs. The respondent’s briefs and the amici can be accessed here, courtesy of Sentencing Law and Policy. has published a few stories which focus on the Supreme Court, but not on Blakely (how dare they!). Tony Mauro’s piece is entitled, "Supreme Tipping PointSome liberals and conservatives say a new high court appointment could alter law in several areas. Will it?” The article makes the point that gridlock in the Senate and the Court’s general moderation in the last several years means that the next appointment won’t result in too many changes. Sure. Tell that to James Comey and Paul Clement. The article discusses a number of areas which may be affected by a new Justice. Among the areas of law discussed (affirmative action, abortion, gay rights federalism, school vouchers, capital punishment) you won’t find a Blakely discussion, presumably because Blakely will be resolved by the time there is a vacancy on the Court.

Another article entitled, "Scalia Bemoans Supreme Court's Increasingly Political Role,” has to have some people asking, what? The article reports that, “Justice Antonin Scalia on Monday bemoaned the Supreme Court's willingness to decide political questions such as the death penalty and abortion and predicted as a result a tough confirmation fight for the next nominee.” Apparently, Justice Scalia did not bemoan his opinion in Blakely, the comments of Senator Sessions on July 13th (“What was Justice Sclaia thinking when he wrote this opinion?”) notwithstanding.

The Vera Institute has a report out entitled “Aggravated Sentencing: Blakely v. Washington – Legal Considerations for State Sentencing Systems.” Those following Blakely in the states will want to read this report.

The Wall Street Journal published two excellent articles on sentencing and Blakely. On Sept. 20th, Gary Fields wrote and article entitled, “Federal Sentencing Changes Could Strain Probation System.” On the same day, Gary Fields and Laurie Cohen wrote, "Reasonable Doubts: How Unproven Allegations Can Lengthen Time in Prison; Stories of Five Convicts Show That Charges in Dispute Often Add to Sentences; Supreme Court Takes Up Rules.” Both articles are “must reads.”

Maine appears to be handling some of its lingering Blakely questions. Although Maine altered its sentencing guidelines a few years ago, the pre-reform guidelines may suffer from Blakely defects. The Supreme Court of Maine may offer some guidance soon, according to the Kennebunkport Journal.

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