April 14, 2005
Big Blakely doings from where it all started
Returning us to the always intriguing state Blakely story, today Washington's state Supreme Court brings us a major decision in Washington v. Hughes, No. 74147-6 (Wash. Apr. 14, 2005) (available here). Here is the court's helpful introduction:
These three cases were consolidated to address (1) the continuing validity of the exceptional sentence provisions of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1981 (SRA), chapter 9.94A RCW, (2) whether the exceptional sentences at issue here violated the petitioners' Sixth Amendment jury trial rights, (3) whether Blakely Sixth Amendment violations can ever be deemed harmless, and (4) what is the proper remedy if we find Sixth Amendment violations that are not harmless.
We hold that the exceptional sentence provisions of the SRA are facially constitutional but that the exceptional sentences at issue violated petitioners' Sixth Amendment rights. Because we also hold that Blakely Sixth Amendment violations can never be harmless and that empanelling juries on remand for re-sentencing would usurp the legislature's authority, we remand for imposition of standard range sentences.
The same court also today decided Washington v. Recuenco, No. 74964-7 (Wash. Apr. 14, 2005) (available here), which fills out the state sentencing story with this ruling:
Arturo Recuenco was charged with second degree assault with a deadly weapon enhancement because he assaulted his wife while holding a gun. At trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict on the assault charge and a special verdict that Recuenco was armed with a deadly weapon. But the trial court imposed a sentence enhancement based on Recuenco's being armed with a firearm, which was greater than that for a deadly weapon. This court granted review to consider whether imposition of a firearm enhancement without a jury finding that Recuenco was armed with a firearm beyond a reasonable doubt violated Recuenco's Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial as defined by Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), and its progeny. As per our reasoning in State v. Hughes, No. 74147-6 (Wash. April 14, 2005), we hold that the trial court's imposition of the firearm enhancement violated Recuenco's Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. We reverse the Court of Appeals, vacate Recuenco's sentence, and remand for resentencing based on the one-year deadly weapon enhancement supported by the jury's special verdict.
April 14, 2005 at 08:18 PM | Permalink
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