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July 10, 2004

Food for thought from Utah

I promised some more commentary about the rulings from Utah on Friday, and now I can finally deliver (background here). First up is the decision in US v. Montgomery, where US District Judge Ted Stewart finds upward enhancements and departures constitutionally problematic under Blakely and concludes that the proper course is to "continue to apply the sentencing guidelines, but without additional fact-finding by the Court that might result in an upward enhancement or departure."

In addition to noting that this case (with Croxford) now creates a district split concerning the proper remedy/recourse after finding Blakely problems with the federal guidelines, I also want to spotlight parts of the opinion where Judge Stewart suggests his ruling should not create massive problems for federal sentencing. Specifically, he states at p.8:

It is this Court’s experience that Blakely-implicated enhancement cases are among a small minority of cases. Therefore, the Court’s decision herein – and, indeed Blakely itself – applies only to a narrowly defined set of cases and does not affect the majority of criminal cases before the Court to be sentenced under the guidelines.

Though I won't dispute the accuracy of this assertion in Utah, I do not believe that across the country upward offense enhancements are at issue in only a "small minority of cases." Moreover, the Judge thereafter suggests at pp.9-10 that the government can readily cope with Blakely:
The Court does not believe its adherence to the approach set forth herein unfairly disadvantages the government. The government maintains numerous effective tools for the prosecution of criminal cases to permit appropriately severe sentences.... Indeed, Blakely set forth numerous options for the government, and the Department of Justice has set about developing methods for pursuing criminal prosecution, post-Blakely.

Though I bet many prosecutors would take issue with this rose-colored vision of the post-Blakely world, I think it is still valuable (and at least quite interesting) that this decision went to some lengths to argue the sky is not falling.

July 10, 2004 at 12:27 AM | Permalink

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The Court does not believe its adherence to the approach set forth herein unfairly disadvantages the government.

Posted by: Robe de Cocktail Pas Cher | Dec 12, 2012 2:59:56 AM

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