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June 9, 2011

SCOTUS gives wins to the prosecution in DePierre and Sykes

The Supreme Court handed down two more of its pending sentencing cases this morning, and here are the early reports from the helpful live-blogging folks at SCOTUSblog:

The Court in DePierre holds that cocaine base is not just crack by cocaine in its chemical form.  Here is a link to the opinion in DePierre.

Justice Sotomayor writes for a unanimous Court. Justice Scalia doesn't join a discussion of legislative history.... So the Court holds that the mandatory minimum sentences for cocaine base aren't limited to crack cases. The government wins....

Kennedy writes for a 6-3 majority in Sykes.  The opinion in Sykes v. United States is here. Scalia dissents, and the Kagan separately dissents joined by Ginsburg.  The Court holds that "felony vehicle flight" is a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

Justice Thomas has a lengthy concurrence, arguing against the Court's application of the test announced by the Court in a case called Begay....  Justice Scalia: "We try to include an ACCA residual-clause case in about every second or third volume of hte United States Reports."

Based on these brief descriptions, it seems DePierre is a snooze and Sykes is real juicy.  Commentary on both will follow as appropriate.

June 9, 2011 at 10:25 AM | Permalink


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