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November 30, 2006

Washington Supreme Court addresses consecutive sentencing and Blakely

Another helpful reader has sent me this report on a notable state Blakely ruling in In re Personal Restraint of VanDelft, No. 77733-1 (Wash. Nov. 30, 2006) (available here):

The Washington State Supreme Court, in a 7 - 2 decision, holds that, where a Washington state statute requires that "[f]elonies that are not serious violent offenses 'shall be served concurrently'" and that "[c]onsecutive sentences for [such] crimes may be imposed only 'under the exceptional sentence provisions of [another state statute]'", and where the trial court in this case imposed consecutive sentences based on its own, and not a jury's, findings that concurrent sentencing would "fail to hold [VanDelft] accountable for all of the crimes for which he was convicted", the defendant was sentenced in violation of Blakely.  (The Court had previously held that "[t]he conclusion that allowing a current offense to go unpunished is clearly too lenient is a factual determination that cannot be made by the trial court following Blakely".)

This ruling, in addition to being important in Washington, may dovetail with some of the issues that were debated in Burton, the Blakely retroactivity case now awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court.

November 30, 2006 at 01:15 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I find it interesting that, consistent with State v. Hughes, the Washington Supreme Court did not remand for a jury trial on the factors necessary to sustain the consecutive sentence.

Posted by: Steve | Nov 30, 2006 2:10:20 PM

Unfortunately Texas courts have ruled entirely opposite, and it is only in the trial judges discretion to stack sentences rather than have them run concurrently. No facts even need be found to support it.

Posted by: Bruce | Nov 30, 2006 2:39:24 PM

Bruce's comment points out the really strange thing about Blakely. The more power the state gives the judge, the fewer Blakely problems it has. If Texas gives the judge full power and requires no findings, there's no problem. If a state tries to protect defendants from arbitrariness by imposing some structure, a raft of constitutional restrictions falls on it. Let no good deed go unpunished.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Nov 30, 2006 3:58:18 PM

Sorry, but I still think the defendant receiving a windfall concurrent sentence because the Court refuses to sever the unconstitutional sentencing system by interpolating a Sixth Amendment procedure into it is more troubling

Posted by: Steve | Nov 30, 2006 5:44:49 PM

Kent: Yep. See Baylor v. State
195 S.W.3d 157 (Tex.App.--San Antonio 2006, no pet.); see also Lacy v. State, Not Reported in S.W.3d, 2006 WL 2862156 Tex.App.--Houston [14 Dist.],2006) ("Here, the trial court did not impose punishment beyond the statutory range for any of appellant's convicted offenses; rather, the court remained well within the ninety-nine-year statutory maximum in assessing punishment at fifty years for each offense. The court, in its discretion, merely instructed whether appellant would serve the sentences concurrently or consecutively.").

Posted by: Bruce | Nov 30, 2006 7:42:31 PM

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