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August 7, 2004

O' Daniel is a dandy

I have now had a chance to read closely Chief Judge Sven Erik Holmes' opinion in US v. O'Daniel, and I want to encourage folks to put the opinion on the top of their Blakely reading list. Though Ron provides some important highlights here (and Jason Hernandez does the same at the Blakely Blog here), the O'Daniel opinion makes too many important holdings and insightful observations to be fully captured through a brief summary. In addition, two critically important realities leap from the page in O'Daniel:

1. Judge Holmes emphasizes the distinction between Blakely's recognition of the jury right and of the right to a beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof, and he concludes that a defendant could (and in this case did) make a valid waiver of the right to jury factfinding, but could not "waive down" the standard of proof. This distinction is very important in a lot of settings besides waiver (e.g., considerations of retroactivity and plain error), and it also is a reminder that the burden of proof issues may, over time, be much more important in the post-Blakely world than the jury versus judge as factfinder debate.

2. The sentencing world in Judge Holmes' courtroom seems so much more orderly and predictable than in those courtrooms in which judges have declared the entire guidelines system unconstitutional. No alternative sentencing, no questions about which parts of the Sentencing Reform Act are still in force, no question about whether parole is back or supervised release is gone, no question about the continued applicability of appellate review. In other words, Judge Holmes has presented a sound and sensible way to maintain our old guidelines world while still making it compliant with the Sixth Amendment and the dictates of Blakely.

August 7, 2004 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

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Comments

The sentencing world in Judge Holmes' courtroom seems so much more orderly and predictable than in those courtrooms in which judges have declared the entire guidelines system unconstitutional.

Posted by: Robe de Soirée 2013 | Dec 14, 2012 2:12:35 AM

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