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November 7, 2005

Michigan Blakely case to be argued on Tuesday

As detailed in this news account, the Michigan Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments in People v Drohan to conclusively decide whether Blakely applies to Michigan's "topless" guideline sentence scheme.  As previously explained in this April post when review was granted in Drohan, the Michigan Supreme Court in People v Claypool, 470 Mich. 715 (2004) (discussed here) dropped a footnote asserting that Michigan's guideline scheme operates in a manner that avoids Blakely problems.  But, because that assertion came without full briefing, the Michigan Supreme Court ultimately decided to take up this important issue directly with full consideration on the merits.

Wonderfully, this page at the website of the Michigan Supreme Court provides additional background on Drohan, as well as links to all four briefs filed in this case.  I will be surprised if the Michigan Supreme Court goes back on its Claypool conclusion, but predictions are always shaky post-Blakely

Notably, because many have suggested a "topless" guidelines approach for the federal system as a response to Booker, folks interested in federal sentencing ought to keep an eye on this case in the months ahead.  In addition, if the Michigan Supreme Court in Drohan does rule, because of the Harris mandatory minimum exception, that Michigan's topless guideline system avoids Blakely issues, the Drohan case could even possibly become an interesting vehicle for the Supreme Court to reconsider Harris.

November 7, 2005 at 08:20 PM | Permalink

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