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October 20, 2008

A little sentencing action from SCOTUS

As detailed in this post at SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court made a few sentencing waves today.  Here is how Lyle Denniston summarizes the significant sentencing action:

The Supreme Court, in the only new grant on Monday, agreed to spell out the proof that federal prosecutors must offer in order to obtain a more severe punishment for criminal identity theft under a 2004 law.  The granted case is Flores-Figueroa v. U.S. (08-108).  The Justice Department, noting a split in the lower courts on the issue, had supported review.

The issue is whether the law enhancing the sentence for identity theft requries proof that an individual knew that the identity card or number he had used belonged to another, actual person — that is, a knowledge requirement.   The Circuit Courts have split 3-3 on the issue.  The dispute centers on the meaning of the word “knowingly” in the 2004 statute....

The Court’s denial of review of another case, testing the constitutionality of the death penalty as it is applied in Georgia, drew a strongly worded statement from Justice John Paul Stevens (available here) arguing that the appeal’s challenge appeared to be supported by the Court’s prior precedents. Stevens, however, did not dissent from the denial, conceding that the inmate had not raised the issues in lower courts.  The case is Walker v . Georgia (08-5385).  Justice Clarence Thomas, in a separate statement supporting the denial of review (available here), argued that Georgia’s Supreme Court had “faithfully and without any error” applied the Court’s death penalty precedents.

October 20, 2008 at 01:50 PM | Permalink


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