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July 8, 2005

Arizona Supreme Court clears its Blakely docket

I just got word from a very helpful reader that the Arizona Supreme Court decided a slew of sentencing cases today.  All of the opinions can be accessed here, and I provide below the helpful summaries that were sent my way:

  • State v. Henderson, No. CR-04-0442-PR (Ariz. July 08, 2005) (available here): "We granted review to consider whether a reviewing court should consider a claim based upon Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), under a harmless error or a fundamental error standard when the defendant failed to raise the issue at trial. We hold that such claims should be reviewed for fundamental error."

  • State v. Martinez, No. CR-04-0435-PR (Ariz. July 08, 2005) (available here): "We granted review in this case to resolve a single issue: Does the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a right to jury trial, as applied to Arizona's general felony sentencing scheme, require that a sentencing judge consider only those aggravating factors found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt in determining whether to impose an aggravated sentence, or may the judge find and consider additional aggravating factors once a single aggravating factor has been found by the jury, is inherent in the jury's verdict, or has been admitted by the defendant?" ANSWER: A single one does it and then Katy-bar-the-door--------------- the Judge can find and rely on as many others as s/he sees fit.

  • State v. Hon. Fell/Sanders, No. CV-04-0344-PR (Ariz. July 08, 2005) (available here): "Under Arizona law, if the death penalty is not imposed for first degree murder, the only other possible sentences are life with the possibility of release after a specified period ("life") or life with no possibility of eventual release ("natural life"). Ariz. Rev. Stat. ("A.R.S.") ยง 13-703(A) (Supp. 2004). We are called on in this case to decide (1) whether the Sixth Amendment requires that a jury find specific aggravating circumstances before the superior court may impose a natural life sentence and (2) whether the superior court can apply a law adopted in 2003 in deciding between a life and a natural life sentence for a first degree murder committed in 2000." ANSWER: "We therefore conclude that the Sixth Amendment does not require that a jury find an aggravating circumstance before a natural life sentence can be imposed." As to (2) above, NO.

  • State v. Lamar, No. CR-01-0270-AP (Ariz. July 08, 2005) (available here): "The primary issue before us is whether reversible error occurred when a trial judge sentenced Christopher George Theodore Lamar to death under a procedure that violated Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002) (Ring II). In addition, we must determine whether the imposition of an aggravated sentence for Lamar's kidnapping conviction violated Blakely v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004)." ANSWER: "Based on our review of the record, we cannot conclude that the Ring II violation constituted harmless error. We find no Blakely error present in Lamar's non-capital, aggravated sentence for kidnapping."

July 8, 2005 at 09:20 PM | Permalink

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