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July 29, 2004

Slow down, you move too fast...

Lyle Denniston over at SCOTUSBlog has this fine post which astutely suggests that, due to the "new filings in the Supreme Court by criminal defense lawyers, the Court’s informal timetable for acting on the Blakely sequels has been complicated, if not slowed down." Indeed, the defense filings — all of which are great reads and can be accessed here — are a stark testament to the doctrinal rabbit hole down which Blakely has taken the sentencing world. And, though dickering over the right vehicles for considering Blakely's federal impact, the briefs' most important messages are those which urge the High Court to take the time needed to handle these matter properly.

The Booker filings are particularly rich in urging a "deliberate process and unhurried attention." The Booker brief repeatedly identifies flaws in the government's claims and suggests "the government's position is probably confused because it was formulated in haste." And the Booker response to the motion to expedite gives us this particularly choice passage:

The complaint that a few defendants might receive a “sentencing windfall” is insufficient to justify expedited review of this case. For about two decades, defendants have been sentenced to longer terms of imprisonment than the facts found by a jury or admitted in a guilty plea warranted. It is difficult to understand why there is a need for urgency to correct sentences perceived to be unduly lenient when it has taken twenty years to avoid sentences that are unduly harsh.

Though I have vocally urged quick Supreme Court consideration of these issues, I concur in the sentiment that the Court must give itself the time it needs to work through all the complicated issues Blakely raises. As I suggested here, some post-Blakely lower court rulings have been opaque no doubt because they were hurried. (The Sixth Circuit's now-vacated ruling in Montgomery and the Eighth Circuit's ruling in Mooney come immediately to mind.) Indeed, it is hard not to think that the Blakely decision itself was so "messy" because the Court was rushing to complete a large group of important cases as the term dwindled to a close.

Critically, The NACDL brief is especially effective in highlighting how many issues are in play (as well as how many doctrinal trap doors are built into the SG's framing of questions for Supreme Court review). The NACDL brief rightly note that the next Blakely case is necessarily about the Sixth Amendment and the Fifth Amendment, and necessarily about the federal guidelines and the Sentencing Reform Act and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.

July 29, 2004 at 12:49 AM | Permalink

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The NACDL brief is especially effective in highlighting how many issues are in play (as well as how many doctrinal trap doors are built into the SG's framing of questions for Supreme Court review).

Posted by: Robe de Soirée 2013 | Dec 14, 2012 12:50:57 AM

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