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August 18, 2004

Grand Ole Blakely

As noted previously here and here, the state so rightfully proud of its Grand Ole Opry should also be proud of its work to date on Blakely. And today I was pointed to this link, where Tennessee's Attorney General provides a very thoughtful — though perhaps a bit biased — set of opinions concerning the "Impact of Blakely v. Washington on Tennessee’s Sentencing Scheme."

The analysis section of this official AG Opinion (No. 04-131 and dated August 13, 2004) contains many insights about the possible reach of Blakely and the structure of Tennessee's sentencing laws. Though there are too many highlights to summarize, here's how the Opinion starts:


QUESTION
In light of Blakely v. Washington, does Tennessee’s sentencing scheme, Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-101, et seq., violate a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury as applied to the States via the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

OPINION
Yes, in part. Those portions of Tenn. Code Ann. §40-35-101, et seq., that allow a trial court to enhance a defendant’s sentence above the presumptive minimum through application of enhancement factors — other than the fact of a prior conviction or any factor admitted by the defendant — are constitutionally invalid. However, as more fully explained below, significant features of Tennessee’s sentencing scheme remain unaffected by Blakely.

August 18, 2004 at 11:04 AM | Permalink

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