October 30, 2004
Keys to avoiding Blakely in the Keystone state
Right after the Blakely ruling in June, members of the Pennsylvania sentencing commission explained why the decision "barely laid a glove on Pennsylvania's guidelines" (details here). A ruling yesterday from the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, the state's intermediate appellate court, seems to confirm this view.
In Commonwealth v. Bromley, 2004 WL 2418029 (Pa. Super. Oct. 29, 2004), the court explains that "Pennsylvania employs an indeterminate sentencing scheme [and] there are significant differences between Washington's sentencing scheme and Pennsylvania's which bear upon the applicability of Blakely in the instant matter." The court goes on to explain why "in the Pennsylvania scheme, unlike the Washington scheme, there is no requirement that a sentencing court make a specific finding prior to sentencing in the aggravated range. The sole requirements are that the judge follow the general principles outlined [by statute] and provide reasons for the sentence which he or she imposes."
The Bromley court thus holds that "Blakely does not implicate the Pennsylvania scheme, where there is no promise of a specific sentence, and a judge has the discretion to sentence in the aggravated range so long as he or she provides reasons for the sentence." And, applying its holding to the case at hand, the court explains:
In the instant matter, the sentencing court based its decision to sentence in the aggravated range on Appellant's lack of any work history other than criminal activity, his history of drug and alcohol abuse, the failure of previous rehabilitative efforts, and the need to protect the community. Thus, the sentencing court did not make any specific findings of fact about the underlying crime but rather exercised its discretion in the manner specifically approved in Apprendi, Ring, and Blakely.
October 30, 2004 at 11:18 AM | Permalink
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My heart sinks that justice is the victim in this interpretation.
Posted by: Jeannie | Oct 30, 2004 1:40:22 PM
How is justice the victim here? It sounds like the judge imposed a sentence based on reasonable issues.
Blakely does not require any particular sentence. It just prohibits a particular procedure. Approved procedures can be totally unguided and at the nearly irrational whim of the trial judge. Blakely is -- at most -- only tangentially about "justice."
Posted by: Hmmm | Oct 30, 2004 3:26:56 PM
The sole requirements are that the judge follow the general principles outlined [by statute] and provide reasons for the sentence which he or she imposes
Posted by: manic | Mar 8, 2005 8:46:00 AM