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October 20, 2010

New Mexico Supreme Court rejects Apprendi/Blakely challenge to judicial findings for enhanced juve sentencing

As detailed in this brief local AP article, the New Mexico Supreme Court "has ruled it's constitutional for a judge to determine whether juvenile offenders can be sentenced as adults for certain violent crimes." Here are the basics:

The justices issued a 4-1 ruling on Tuesday overturning a 2009 decision by the state Court of Appeals, which held that a jury rather than a judge should make the sentencing decision.  Justice Edward Chavez dissented, saying juvenile offenders are entitled to the same constitutional jury protections given to adults.

At issue is a sentencing procedure for "youthful offenders" --- those 14 to 18 years old found guilty of violent felonies, including second-degree murder and robbery.  Judges can impose adult sentences only if they determine an offender is not amenable to treatment in the juvenile justice system.

I have not yet been able to find a copy of this ruling on-line, but I will post it when I do.  Depending on the particulars, this case might serve as an interesting vehicle for taking a long-simmering, and quite interesting, post-Apprendi-Blakely issue up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

UPDATE: The full opinion from the NM Supreme Court is now available at this link.

October 20, 2010 at 09:40 AM | Permalink

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