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December 1, 2004

Interesting morning Blakely news reports

This article from the South Florida Sun Sentinel details that District Judge Jose Martinez decided to delay sentencing yet again in a high profile fraud case to wait for a decision in Booker and Fanfan.  Here is a telling quote from the Judge:

"This is the one I might have to hold up on," Martinez said. "When it comes right down to it, I need a little more guidance than I've gotten from the higher courts. I don't want to do this twice."

This article serves as a useful reminder that, even though USSC data suggest most federal cases are moving along, many cases are being held up.  (It also reinforces my sense that fraud cases might be the type of case most likely to be delayed.)

And a truly remarkable story about Blakely comes from Iowa, where this article in the Des Moines Register reports that "Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett recently tried to hold in contempt a prosecutor who had repeatedly challenged Bennett's efforts to reduce prison terms."  Though the contempt charge has been dropped, the story explains how it came to pass:

The contempt charge was the latest flare-up in a years-long battle between the judge and U.S. Attorney Charles Larson Sr.'s office over how severely to treat defendants who cooperate with the government....

In August, [AUSA] Fletcher asked Bennett to consider a stiffer prison sentence against a Sheldon man because the shotgun he used in an accidental slaying was illegal. Bennett, noting the Blakely decision, said he could not recognize the request because a jury had never heard the evidence. When Fletcher suggested that Blakely was not relevant to the federal courts, Bennett announced his intention to hold Fletcher — and his entire office — in criminal contempt.

This story serves as a sad commentary on how pitched the battle has become between federal judges and federal prosecutors over sentencing decision-making.

December 1, 2004 at 08:28 AM | Permalink

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