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March 11, 2005

In epic showdown, Blakely trumps Harris in Minnesota

Though not quite having the cinematic quality of, say, Godzilla versus Megalon, in the recent Minnesota case of State v. Barker, No. A04-1453 (Minn. App. Mar. 8, 2005) (available here), the state Court of Appeals held that, despite the fact that Harris v. US allows for judicial fact-finding in support of mandatory minimums, where the mandatory minimum sentence is greater than the presumptive guideline sentence, imposition of the higher "mandatory minimum sentence" sentence violates Blakely when based on facts not found by a jury.  In other words, Blakely trumps Harris when they are in tension:

Because the statute creates a mandatory-minimum sentence that replaces the ordinary presumptive sentence, Blakely v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004) requires that the finding be made by a jury if the mandatory-minimum sentence exceeds the ordinary guidelines presumptive sentence.... [In this case] the mandatory-minimum statute functions the same as an aggravating factor by increasing what otherwise would be the presumptive sentence. Because it functions in the same way, we conclude, it should be treated the same as an upward departure from the presumptive sentence for purposes of Blakely.

March 11, 2005 at 01:09 AM | Permalink

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