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March 8, 2006

En banc Pennsylvania court upholds state sentencing scheme over Blakely challenge

Contributing to another yet another fascinating state Blakely day, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, sitting en banc, has ruled that the state's guideline sentencing system is constitutionally sound.  Here is the opening of the majority's ruling in Commonwealth v. Kleinicke, No. 986 MDA 2003 (Sup. Ct. Pa. Mar. 8, 2006) (available for download below):

In this appeal, we consider whether Appellant's sentence violated the Supreme Court's pronouncements in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), and Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). After careful review, we conclude that the principles for which these cases stand were not implicated because 18 Pa.C.S. § 7508 merely increased the minimum sentence and not Appellant's maximum term of imprisonment.

The ruling generated two notable and interesting dissents.  When I get a chance to read all 71 pages, I hope to follow-up with commentary.  In the meantime, Keystone State lawyers (and any state Blakely fans) are highly encouraged to weigh in on Kleinicke.

Download pa_blakely_case_kleinicke.pdf

March 8, 2006 at 06:03 PM | Permalink

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Comments

17 pages into the opinion the majority makes this assertion: "The Federal sentencing scheme at issue in Booker was identical to the
state scheme addressed in Blakely." From what I learned about Washington's scheme when drafting amicus briefs for the Natale cases in NJ, I don't think that's accurate at all.

Posted by: Steve | Mar 9, 2006 11:03:27 AM

There are a lot of passages in all the opinions in Kleinicke that seem a bit off.

Posted by: Doug B. | Mar 9, 2006 1:20:42 PM

There are more than a few in PA who refer to this body as the "so-called superior", "so-called court". It is the intermediate appellate court in PA. The en banc court only seats about half the court's members, randomly selected (like the Ninth Circuit). I'd wait for the PA Supremes to rule (in another year or two, probably) before drawing any definitive conclusions.

Posted by: Peter G | Mar 9, 2006 5:49:45 PM

This decision is pitiful. The PA Superior Court should really just be called the PA former DA's Court. The Court has numerous former DA's and has recently turned decidedly anti-defendant in its rulings. This decision, if not reversed by the PA Supreme Court, will certainly be granted Habeas relief. Another example of how bad things really are in PA jurisprudence.

Posted by: Michael R. Hadley, Esq. | Mar 10, 2006 2:00:08 AM

Putting aside the ad hominem attacks on the court, its members and their former profession, what is the beef with this decision? As for Steve's comment, the WA system was close enough to the Federal system that the Booker court applied Blakely the the feds. Maybe the PA court is not populated with the likes of Prof. B, but I am still wondering what the nub of the substantive objection is?

Posted by: Huh | Mar 11, 2006 2:39:57 PM

vainc la peur et r�veille de la maladresse et �teint son feu ferme

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Posted by: brian | Jun 24, 2007 5:34:58 PM

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