« August 14, 2005 - August 20, 2005 | Main | August 28, 2005 - September 3, 2005 »

August 22, 2005

Notable pipeline cases from the 7th Circuit

The Seventh Circuit today has issued two interesting opinions which affirm sentences imposed by district courts in the interregnum between Blakely and Booker.  See US v. Paulus, No. 04-3092 (7th Cir. Aug 22, 2005) (accessible here); Bryant v. US, No. 04-2850 (7th Cir. Aug 22, 2005) (accessible here).  Both rulings cover a lot of interesting ground, and both reflect the Seventh Circuit's obvious interest in maintaining a post-Booker federal sentencing world that looks a lot like the pre-Booker federal sentencing world (as was made so clear in the court's Mykytiuk and Dean rulings last month). 

In Bryant, for example, the court gives the back of its hand to the argument that, after Blakely and Booker, factual determinations in sentencing may now need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt: "We reiterate, however, that these cases do not foreclose judicial factfinding in the sentencing context, nor do they dictate that judges must find those facts beyond a reasonable doubt."  And, in both cases, the Seventh Circuit concludes its reasonableness review by restating its position, first expressed in Mykytiuk, "that sentences properly calculated under the guidelines ... are entitled to a rebuttable presumption of reasonableness."

August 22, 2005 in Booker in the Circuits | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 21, 2005

A stately week in review

In the week since this prior review of dog day developments, the most interesting and dynamic rulings have been coming from state courts in Minnesota, New Jersey and Oregon.  However, as the review below highlights, there has also been a lot of noteworthy sentencing action from the federal circuit courts and elsewhere.





August 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday stories of sex and death

Pardon the sensationalized headline for this post, but today the Sunday morning papers include a number of sensational articles that follow-up developing stories about sex offender sentencing proposals and about the process for excluding mentally retarded defendants from the death penalty.

On the topic of sex offender sentencing (concerning which this post from earlier this week generated a robust blogosphere debate), there are articles today from the Washington Post and from the Boston Globe discussing new proposed sex offender legislation in Maryland and New Hampshire.  Earlier this week, similar proposals were coming from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, which prompted this harsh editorial from the Sacramento Bee.

On the topic of death sentencing procedures, this article from Virginia canvasses the issues likely to be raised on appeal by death row defendant Daryl Atkins after a jury ruled he was not mentally retarded and thus subject to execution (details here).  I expect that a leading cite in briefs filed by Atkins' lawyers will be the recent New Jersey Jiminez decision, discussed here, which concluded that prosecutors seeking the death penalty in New Jersey must prove a defendant is not mentally retarded beyond a resonable doubt.

August 21, 2005 in Death Penalty Reforms, Sex Offender Sentencing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Potent sentencing questions in the First State

Thomas Eichler, who recently authored this potent report on race and incarceration in Delaware (detailed here), has followed up that effort with this perspective piece in the The News Journal that raises potent issues and questions about sentencing and corrections in Delaware.  Many of the issues and questions raised by Eichler could and should be of concern to policy-makers in every jurisdiction.  Here is a snippet from the piece and some of the thoughtful questions Eichler is raising:

When you add up the cost of the criminal justice system (police, courts and the Department of Correction), you come to realize that it is providing public safety at a cost of more than $300 million in the state budget.  How much of that is allocated to evaluation of the system?

The answer is $610,000, the budget of the Statistical Analysis Center. This means we are spending about two cents out of every $100 to operate the system on monitoring and evaluating its performance.  Little wonder we do not know basic facts about how the criminal justice system is performing, such as the recidivism rate for the approximately 12,000 people released last year, having served their sentences....

[T]he state's criminal justice agencies [should] start looking at their own data and probe the issues uncovered in my report about race in the justice system.  The General Assembly and the governor [should] create a citizens' special commission to investigate behind the veil that shrouds much of Delaware's criminal justice system. They should ask:

  • Why aren't the state's criminal justice agencies routinely examining the kind of policy issues raised by my report on an ongoing basis? ...
  • Why have the alternatives to expensive incarceration recommended in so many state reports not been implemented?

August 21, 2005 in Criminal Sentences Alternatives, Drug Offense Sentencing, Purposes of Punishment and Sentencing, Race, Class, and Gender, Scope of Imprisonment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack