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August 2, 2005

New Jersey applies Blakely (and Booker?)

As promised, the Supreme Court of New Jersey this morning issued its decisions in three big Blakely cases: State v. Natale, No. A-82/83-04 (N.J. Aug. 2, 2005) (available here), State v. Abdullah, No. A-73-04 (N.J. Aug. 2, 2005) (available here), and State v. Franklin, No. A-64-04 (N.J. Aug. 2, 2005) (available here).  Collectively, all three opinions run more than 100 pages and appear to cover too many issues to effectively summarize (though, helpfully, the opinions each start with an official summary).

In short form, it appears that the New Jersey Supreme Court has essentially applied both Blakely and Booker: the Court finds that Blakely applies to New Jersey's sentencing scheme, but then decides it should remove the offending "presumptive term" provision of NJ Criminal Code.   Here is the official summary of the holding in Natale:

A sentence above the presumptive statutory term based solely on a judicial finding of aggravating factors, other than a prior criminal conviction violates defendant's Sixth Amendment jury trial guarantee.  The penal code's presumptive terms are eliminated.  Judges will sentence defendants within the statutory range for the offense after weighing the aggravating and mitigating factors.

Once I have a chance to digest these opinions, I hope to provide some commentary.  In the meantime, I hope those working in New Jersey will use the comments to help enhance everyone's understanding of what this exactly means for sentencing in the real Apprendi-land.

August 2, 2005 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

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Comments

As one of the attorneys who argued as amicus curiae in two of the three cases (Natale and Franklin), I submit that Franklin is clearly the most interesting and surprising of the three. Coming out of oral argument, everyone believed that the court would hold Franklin's trial-testimony admission of the Apprendi-fact sufficient to satisfy Apprendi. The court held just the opposite. Also notable is that the court in Franklin applied what amounts to a structural error standard of review, refusing to find the error harmless merely because the evidence of firearms possession was overwhelming. So Mr. Franklin will be resentenced without the extended term AND with the benefit (or lack thereof) of Natale'a severance of our ordinary sentencing statute. Bottom line is that he will get the same 10 year max, five year parole disqualifier he got the first time, which means he is eligible for release immediately. So, too, is Mr. Natale.

Posted by: Steve | Aug 2, 2005 11:17:37 AM

Further to my first comment, I find it very significant that the New Jersey Supreme Court in Franklin/Natale gave the benefit of its "new rules" not only to those defendants with pending appeals (i.e., pipeline retroactivity), but also to defendants (like Franklin) who had raised an Apprendi/Blakely challenge on direct appeal but had lost. That lattter class of defendants may obtain the benefit of the "new rule" on collateral attack and obtain a remedy, even if their appeals were final when Franklin/Natale issued. That appears to afford a limited class of defendants a benefit that the US Supreme Court's decision in Teague v. Lane does not. This is a tribute to healthy federaism principles -- i.e., NJ using its own retroactivity jurisprudence to afford defendants the benefit of a "new rule" on collateral attack so long as they preserved the claim in the trial court and/or on direct appeal.

Posted by: Steve | Aug 2, 2005 2:53:52 PM

Hello I am just a concerened citizen with a friend who got life, yea life for Conspiracy and count 2 Posses with intent to distribute cocaine (base) crack. He has been serving since 1989. His family and i are trying everything and anything to free him. He did not even have pocession of such product but someone in his party turned states evidence on him. We are wondering if you can advise us on if and what he may have a chance at re: any of this new laws, Blakley etc..?
Desperately hopeing

Posted by: penny | Aug 2, 2005 10:04:54 PM

how about the people that didnt raise issue in direct appeal and need to do so now please respond with some opinions very important have freind in jail needs to no what to do thank you

Posted by: frank | Aug 14, 2006 8:51:49 PM

My name is Mary , I really hoping you can please give some kind of guidenance and help .I,m now a single mother with two great boys. And their world came tumbling down June 29,2005. On this night my husband was locked up on a drug charge.These heartless people (agents) busted my door in and once they were in the told me "They knew noone was here but me and my kids and to make it really bad my 8year old was crying asking are you gonna shoot my mommy. Then to make it even worse they brought their dad back to the house brought him in the house with handcuffs on .I really believe they wanted his kids to see him like that. You see my husband isn"t perfect everyone makes mistakes this man is a great father and husband.The police ran the bust in the local paper 2 weeks later and the paper printed a bold face lie saying that the cops had gotten 30,0000 dollars worth of drugs out of my house I have copies of the paper. Do they even realize the danger that put my familiy in. From the very begging we were dooped. The attorney we paid all that money did nothing. I'm trying to really understand and hope and pray you can answer these questions for me. My husband did,nt want to take a plea bargain but his lawyer basically told him it was a 90% chance he would get 30 years. So with your lawyer telling you that what would you do. ( Now let's be real how do you think he would have done in a trial as a black man). And do you know what is so sad the lawyer was telling the truth.My husband Has 2ounces on his that night but after it was all said and done he had 13-15 statements written against him by the feds so called informants everyone of them were either already in prison or waiting to be sentenced.They also gave multiple conspiracy charges, trafficking etc. He also had a GUN CHARGE too. But they knew from that night that was my gun I told them that and I told the attorney. So being that he took the plea they took the gun charge off. I'm almost sure they only used the gun so it could go federal they had no intentions of keeping that charge on his. He did have a criminal record 12years ago in NJ nothing major. He served 1year in the county jail. And the record was exspunged. My husband got a 15year sentence resulting from a botched plea bargain. He never really had criminal record not bad enough to give someone that a federal judge said he did,nt feel that he was a threat to society. They never gave him the chance to get out on bond. These officiers around hear does what they have to make thier cases stick. Yeah may need some sort of punishment but he don't deserved 15year sentence. So please please give me any kind of information I don,t know what to do or who to ask anymore. I can,t afford any legal help we have no money left. So We would be extremely thankful.

Thank you so Much
God Bless You.

Mary, Kevin & Nate

Posted by: Mary H Staton | Jan 24, 2007 7:21:26 PM

My name is Mary , I really hoping you can please give some kind of guidenance and help .I,m now a single mother with two great boys. And their world came tumbling down June 29,2005. On this night my husband was locked up on a drug charge.These heartless people (agents) busted my door in and once they were in the told me "They knew noone was here but me and my kids and to make it really bad my 8year old was crying asking are you gonna shoot my mommy. Then to make it even worse they brought their dad back to the house brought him in the house with handcuffs on .I really believe they wanted his kids to see him like that. You see my husband isn"t perfect everyone makes mistakes this man is a great father and husband.The police ran the bust in the local paper 2 weeks later and the paper printed a bold face lie saying that the cops had gotten 30,0000 dollars worth of drugs out of my house I have copies of the paper. Do they even realize the danger that put my familiy in. From the very begging we were dooped. The attorney we paid all that money did nothing. I'm trying to really understand and hope and pray you can answer these questions for me. My husband did,nt want to take a plea bargain but his lawyer basically told him it was a 90% chance he would get 30 years. So with your lawyer telling you that what would you do. ( Now let's be real how do you think he would have done in a trial as a black man). And do you know what is so sad the lawyer was telling the truth.My husband Has 2ounces on his that night but after it was all said and done he had 13-15 statements written against him by the feds so called informants everyone of them were either already in prison or waiting to be sentenced.They also gave multiple conspiracy charges, trafficking etc. He also had a GUN CHARGE too. But they knew from that night that was my gun I told them that and I told the attorney. So being that he took the plea they took the gun charge off. I'm almost sure they only used the gun so it could go federal they had no intentions of keeping that charge on his. He did have a criminal record 12years ago in NJ nothing major. He served 1year in the county jail. And the record was exspunged. My husband got a 15year sentence resulting from a botched plea bargain. He never really had criminal record not bad enough to give someone that a federal judge said he did,nt feel that he was a threat to society. They never gave him the chance to get out on bond. These officiers around hear does what they have to make thier cases stick. Yeah may need some sort of punishment but he don't deserved 15year sentence. So please please give me any kind of information I don,t know what to do or who to ask anymore. I can,t afford any legal help we have no money left. So We would be extremely thankful.

Thank you so Much
God Bless You.

Mary, Kevin & Nate

Posted by: Mary H Staton | Jan 24, 2007 7:21:27 PM

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