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September 2, 2004

The Eleventh Circuit Speaks!!

As if we did not have enough to read, the Eleventh Circuit just handed down a decision in US v. Reese, No. 03-13117 (11th Cir. Sept. 2, 2004), in which the court joins what is now a considerable majority of federal circuits in declining to apply Blakely to the US Sentencing Guidelines. Here's the key language:

In light of Edwards and our own precedent in Sanchez, the additional cases and reasoning discussed by the Fifth Circuit in Pineiro and the Sixth Circuit in Koch, as well as the Supreme Court's express avoidance of this issue with respect to the Guidelines in the Blakely opinion itself, we decline to conclude that Blakely compels an alteration of the established view of the Guidelines as a tool for channeling the sentencing court's discretion within a crime's minimum and maximum sentence provided in the United States Code, with that maximum being the only constitutionally relevant maximum sentence. Therefore, the district court did not err in imposing the four-level enhancement pursuant to USSG § 2K2.1(b)(5). We hold that district courts should continue to sentence pursuant to the Guidelines until such time as the Supreme Court rules on this issue.

The decision includes this interesting "homage" to the idea of alternative sentencing, although now repackaged with the interesting label "protective steps":
We acknowledge that two circuits have held that Blakely does apply to the Guidelines, and that it is very difficult to predict whether the Supreme Court will apply Blakely to the Guidelines, and, if it does, whether it will hold that the Guidelines fall in their entirety or only in part. In light of this instability, we recognize that district courts might deem it wise and appropriate to take protective steps in case the Guidelines are later found unconstitutional in whole or in part. However, we are reluctant to provide specific advice with respect to what protective steps, if any, might be appropriate to reduce confusion and protect against duplicative judicial efforts should the Supreme Court so rule. We realize that such appropriate and feasible steps might vary with each individual case.

September 2, 2004 at 04:59 PM | Permalink

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