February 15, 2007
The Cunningham fog in California
This article from California, entitled "Courts in fog on sentencing after overturning of law," provides more details on post-Cunningham sentencing struggles is the national largest criminal justice system:
The U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned California's sentencing law has left judges and lawyers across the state waiting for legislators to fill the legal vacuum left by last month's ruling.... Lawyers are already turning to appellate courts for guidance. A Riverside County district attorney's petition filed this week with the 4th District Court of Appeal asked the court to "give direction to the Riverside County trial courts" in the absence of a new sentencing law.
In the Legislature, the ball is rolling slowly. The state Senate approved a bill Tuesday to square California's Determinate Sentencing Law with the Supreme Court. The Inland delegation voted for the bill, which goes to the Assembly sometime next week.... Legal experts, the state attorney general's office and other observers predicted that thousands of inmates would appeal their upper-term sentences after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. But the first-wave effect from Cunningham deals with new cases, not old ones.
Without word from the Legislature or state high court, prosecutors and defense lawyers are at odds about how aggravating factors may be determined in the future, other than the certainty that a judge is out as the lone fact-finder. Prosecutors want to make aggravating factors part of the official court record so a jury can consider them, once the issue is resolved. "We are reserving the right to seek an aggravated term," explained San Bernardino County Assistant District Attorney Michael Risley. Defense attorneys are challenging the efforts during arraignments, saying the absence of a law clarifying the sentencing rules makes aggravation claims pointless.
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February 15, 2007 at 07:13 AM | Permalink
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This is were i see transition is very important. Unfinished business from the past may give some slight problems.
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