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September 1, 2004

First official Blakely reversal in California

As Jonathan Soglin reports here over at Criminal Appeal, the first "official" California Blakely reversal happened yesterday in People v. Perry, No. A104398 (Cal. Ct. App. Aug. 31, 2004). The case involved the imposition of a four year upper-term sentence after defendant's guilty plea to "infliction of corporal injury to a cohabitant resulting in a traumatic condition." The court explained:

In this case, the trial court imposed the aggravated term based on the following factors: (1) "the defendant was armed with or used a weapon at the time of the commission of the offense;" (2) "the defendant has engaged in violent conduct which indicates he’s a danger to society;" (3) "his prior convictions as an adult are numerous and of increasing seriousness;" (4) "he was on a grant of summary probation at the time this crime was committed;" (5) "the defendant’s prior performance on summary probation has been unsatisfactory." Because under Blakely, at least four of these five factors must be determined by a jury, we conclude the trial court erred.

In expanding upon this conclusion, the court interestingly speculated on the scope of the "prior convictions" exceptions for purposes of applying factor (3) above. But then the court, after explaining its review standards, held that reversal was still required:
We need not decide whether the trial court (rather than the jury) may, after Blakely, find that defendant's crimes were of increasing seriousness, because we cannot determine, from this record, whether the four improper factors were "determinative" for the trial court. To put it another way, we cannot determine whether the trial court would have imposed the upper term based solely on defendant's increasing criminality.

Jonathan Soglin, who surely knows California law much better than I do, comments that if the California Supreme Court "follows this approach, and it should, reversals are likely in many other cases."

September 1, 2004 at 09:36 AM | Permalink

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Comments

How can they justify not publishing Perry?!?!? Unbelievable.

Posted by: VaneWimsey | Sep 1, 2004 12:16:54 PM

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