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October 1, 2012

A not-so-big SCOTUS Term for sentencing fans about to get started

As effectively covered via lots of media reports linked via How Appealing (here and here, for example), lots of folks are predicting the upcoming Supreme Court Term, which gets started this first Monday in October, will be another big one. Cases concerning affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act and gay marriage make this prediction sound for those focused on high-profile social issues and election law.  But for criminal justice fans, and especially for a hard-core sentencing geeks, this coming SCOTUS Term looks like it could be a relative yawner.

The SCOTUS Term just concluded was huge not only because of the huge health-care cases and Arizona immigration cases which had some criminal justice implication, but also because of groundbreaking Sixth and Eighth Amendment rulings in Lafler, Frye and Miller. In addition, SCOTUS last Term also gave us sentencing fans an Apprendi sequel via Southern Union, a crack sentencing case in Dorsey, and a few other tasty jurisprudential tidbits. So far, the only cases on the docket garnering any significant attention from me concerning Padilla's retroactivity and (yet another) ACCA dispute.

That all said, many of the big-ticket sentencing cases decided last Term were not on the docket yet when the Term got started last October 2011. Thus, it is be premature to conclude that this Term is destined to be one that sentencing fans can completely ignore. Still, unless and until SCOTUS takes up some notable new cases soon, sentencing fans will have good reason to be watching the polls more than the courts for the next few months.

October 1, 2012 at 09:29 AM | Permalink


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It appears that the Supreme Court couldn't be bothered to rule on the Balentine case, a case where it granted a lawless stay (and of course provided no reasoning for it). Yet another example of why there should be zero federal collateral review of death sentences.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 1, 2012 9:54:14 AM

One thing can be guaranteed. This conservative Court will pursue the rent, and always rule in favor of criminals, who are the sources of government make work jobs for lawyers.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 2, 2012 12:24:17 AM

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