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January 11, 2006

Ninth Circuit says aloha to Hawaii's sentencing system

In what may be the most significant and potentially far-reaching federal habeas decision about a state sentencing system since Blakely, the Ninth Circuit today in Kaua v. Frank, No. 05-15059 (9th Cir. Jan. 11, 2006) (available here), has concluded (despite a contrary opinion from the Hawaii Supreme Court) that an aspect of Hawaii's sentencing system violates the Apprendi-Blakely rule.  Here is the opening of the opinion:

Appellants, the State of Hawaii and Clayton Frank, appeal the Hawaii district court's grant of Wayman Kaua's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.  We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1291 and 2253, and we affirm.  The Hawaii sentencing court found that an extended sentence was necessary to protect the public in Kaua's case. Because the effect of this finding was to increase Kaua's sentence above that authorized by the jury’s guilty verdict, we hold that Apprendi v. New Jersey required a jury to make the finding. In reaching the opposite conclusion, the Hawaii Supreme Court applied a rule — the "intrinsic/extrinsic" analysis — contrary to the rule that Apprendi announced. The district court properly granted the writ.

There are a lot of facets to this Ninth Circuit panel ruling, and it reinforces the Ninth Circuit's tendency to view the prior conviction exception narrowly.  Since Hawaii likely won't be too happy about this ruling, I would expect an en banc and/or cert. petition to follow.  (I wonder if I can convince my dean that I need to now spend the rest of January doing fieldwork on this case in Maui....)

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HAWAII INMATES WITH EXTENDED TERM SENTENCES SHOULD CONTACT WWW.FOUNDATIONFORINNOCENCE.COM.WE BELIEVE THAT THIS RULING COULD ALSO BE AGRUED AGAINST HAWAII PAROLING AUTHORITY SETTING ILLEGAL EXCESSIVE MINIMUM TERM SENTENCES. I AM A SENIOR PARALEGAL WITH THE FOUNDATION

Posted by: MONTE BOYD | Jan 21, 2006 1:12:24 AM

Experienced Paralegal.For very low prices on case review and drafting of State or Federal Habeas Corpus Petition. Contact Monte Boyd at postconviction@yahoo.com

Posted by: Monte Boyd | Aug 15, 2008 11:42:07 PM

Experienced Paralegal.For very low prices on case review and drafting of State or Federal Habeas Corpus Petition. Contact Monte Boyd at postconviction@yahoo.com

Posted by: Monte Boyd | Aug 15, 2008 11:43:03 PM

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Posted by: | Oct 14, 2008 10:18:58 PM

I am looking for Hawaii's sentencing guidelines for sexual assault and was wondering if the charges vary for a crime against a child or elderly victim? I am a student doing research for school. Thank you

Posted by: Deb Stevenson | Dec 17, 2008 12:24:13 AM

You may direct your questions regarding sentencing to: postconviction@yahoo.com

Posted by: | Dec 20, 2008 10:05:55 PM

Mr. Boyd congratulations on the Taryn Christian case. A very tough murder case

Posted by: | Dec 20, 2008 10:09:42 PM

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