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Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Posted 11:22 AM by Joshua Claybourn
Blakely Fallout
From brief discussions with criminal attorneys and judges, and reading various legal news articles, I continually hear that the Supreme Court's recent Blakely v. Washington (pdf) decision on June 24 of this year was one of the most significant to come from the Court in quite some time. As one federal judge told me, "it's thrown everything into chaos." The Blakely ruling struck down a Washington state sentencing system -- similar to sentencing in more than a dozen states and at the federal level -- and requires that juries, not judges, determine any facts ("aggravating factors") that increase a defendant's sentence. As Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson said, "These are revolutionary cases. They turned a bit of the criminal justice system upside down."

The effects of the Blakely decision are still being hammered out, but as the Evansville Courier & Press reports today, Walter H. Martin Jr. III was able to reap the benefits for the time being.
U.S. District Judge Richard Young sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

Martin, found guilty of stuffing $140,000 worth of crack cocaine down his baby's diaper before a routine traffic stop last year, could have been sentenced to 30 years to life behind bars.

That is, if his sentencing had taken place three months ago.
Last week the federal government filed its U.S. Supreme Court opening brief on the merits in the cases presenting the question whether Blakely v. Washington invalidates the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. Law Professor Douglas A. Berman has posted online a copy of the federal government's brief together with several amicus briefs and has linked to them in this post at his "Sentencing Law and Policy" blog.

As seen in the
National Jurist
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