Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Is Blakely showing its age as it turns four?
Today marks the four-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's profoundly important constitutional ruling in Blakely v. Washington. Its jurisprudential godfather, Apprendi v. New Jersey, will turn eight on Thursday. Both merit re-reading as a fitting celebration of their birth and jurisprudential development.
Though my first post on the Blakely case, headlined "Blakely..... WOW!!", still captures my feelings about the ruling, the passage of time has me rethinking my assertion in this July 2004 Slate commentary that "Blakely is the biggest criminal justice decision not just of this past term, not just of this decade, not just of the Rehnquist Court, but perhaps in the history of the Supreme Court." (Notice that I included the term "perhaps," ever aware that I might later need to back-track from such an extreme assertion.)
Of course, the profound significance of Blakely on day-to-day criminal justice realities is still evident to anyone practicing in federal courts or in the dozens of other jurisdictions that have had their sentencing laws modified (or transmogrified) because of Blakely. Still, back in summer 2004, I really thought — perhaps hoped — that the Blakely Five, given the broad language and strong themes of the Blakely majority opinion, were prepared and eager to champion, through additional major constitutional rulings, the traditional adversarial procedures that Blakely extolled in a wide array of sentencing contexts.
Specifically, I expected the Blakely Five to take up quickly Sixth Amendment challenges to judicial fact-finding in diverse sentencing settings — e.g., revoking supervised release, ordering restitution. I also thought that the Blakely Five might be eager to reconsider the prior-conviction and mandatory minimum exceptions to the Apprendi principle. In 2004, I also believed that the Fifth Amendment holding and due process principles implicit in Blakely might find broad expression in all various sentencing settings (and I certainly did not expect to be still fighting uphill battles in lower courts against sentencing enhancements based on acquitted conduct).
Four years later, however, as lower courts continue to cabin the reach and impact of Blakely (as highlighted by a Tennessee high court ruling just today), it is hard to notice any continuing aftershocks of the Blakely earthquake. One obviously explanation, of course, is that the Booker advisory remedy provided a relatively easy "out" for the federal system and others dealing with the constitution complications Blakely created for structured sentencing systems. But, perhaps even more significantly, the Justices' apparent disinclination in the last four years to consider Blakely-expanding claims made by defendants has sent a clear (and intended?) signal to lower courts that the Justices are generally disinclined to follow-up on Blakely in any dramatic way.
Friday, May 30, 2008
The true back-story of the Blakely-Booker jurisprudential mess?
Though it makes no mention of sentencing jurisprudence, this new piece up on SSRN develops a theory that may help explain how and why the Apprendi-Blakely-Booker line of cases has produced such a doctrinal mess. The piece by Ben Barton is titled "Judges, Lawyers, and a Predictive Theory of Legal Complexity," and here is the abstract:
This Article uses public choice theory and the "new institutionalism" to discuss the incentives, proclivities, and shared backgrounds of lawyers and judges. In America every law-making judge has a single unifying characteristic, each is a former lawyer. This shared background has powerful and unexplored effects on the shape and structure of American law. This Article argues that the shared characteristics, thought-processes, training, and incentives of Judges and lawyers lead inexorably to greater complexity in judge-made law. These same factors lead to the following prediction: judge-created law will be most complex in areas where a) elite lawyers regularly practice; b) judges may have a personal preference in the case that can be written-around by way of legal complexity; and c) the subject area interests the judge, or is generally considered prestigious. The Article uses the law of standing as a case study.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
A guide to Apprendi issues for courtroom practitioners
Bruce Cunningham, Heather Rattelade and Amanda Zimmer have a new article (available here from SSRN) entitled "Apprendi/Blakely: A Primer for Practitioners." Here is the abstract:
The purpose of this article is to explore some of these complex Apprendi/Blakely issues in a manner which is useful for the courtroom practitioner. The implications of Apprendi/Blakely are largely uncharted territory and some of the opinions expressed in this article have not been addressed by any appellate court. In some instances, there are North Carolina appellate decisions which the authors contend are inconsistent with the basic premise of the Sixth Amendment line of cases. The article is intended to broaden the view of Apprendi/Blakely to include concepts that extend far beyond sentencing.
The article is divided into three parts and is geared toward the trial, appellate, and postconviction lawyer. Part I is devoted to a discussion of the historical context of Apprendi/Blakely and the basic conceptual underpinnings of the Supreme Court's Sixth Amendment line of cases. Part II presents a framework for analyzing Apprendi/Blakely issues arising under the Structured Sentencing Act. Part III, appearing in a later volume of the North Carolina Central University Law Journal, will deal exclusively with capital litigation and the Sixth Amendment line.
In an e-mail to me, one of the authors has said: "I hope some trial lawyers from the Blakely compliant states will comment."
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Does the Blakely Five really care about sentencing procedures?
One of many reasons I thought Blakely was so important was because it suggested that five Justices really cared about procedural rights in modern sentencing schemes. But, as Steve Sady highlights in this recent post, the Supreme Court continues to deny cert on many issues that seek to follow-up on Blakely's promise to champion "adversarial testing" over "judicial inquisition" at sentencing.
Of course, the Booker remedy seriously undercut efforts to champion "adversarial testing" over "judicial inquisition" at sentencing. Nevertheless, a range of follow-up Booker issues, ranging from the proper burden of proof at sentencing to acquitted conduct enhancements to judicial fact-finding to revoke supervised release, all present fresh and important opportunities for the Blakely Justices to champion again "longstanding tenets of common-law criminal jurisprudence." Sadly, though, more than 3 years after Blakely, we are still awaiting the Court to fulfill Blakely's promised commitment to robust procedure justice at sentencing.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Continued pitch for cert on an important Blakely issue
As detailed in this post, I am part of a team seeking cert in Faulks v. US, a case from the Fourth Circuit concerning the procedures for revoking supervised release. Our initial petition is here, and earlier this month the government filed its brief in opposition (BIO). A few days ago, we filed our reply to the government's BIO. These latest filings can be accessed here:
Though I am partial, I am genuinely convinced that the issues we have raised in Faulks need the Supreme Court's attention ASAP. If the Justices in the Blakely five (or the Cunningham six) are genuinely committed to its articulated Sixth Amendment doctrines and principles, the judge-centered procedures employed in federal supervised release revocation proceedings ought to be cause for significant constitutional concern (especially in a case with extreme facts like Faulks).
As has been well documented in the SCOTUSblog stats, SCOTUS needs to grant cert in a bunch of new cases to fill its fall argument calender. And the Court has not taken up any new Blakely issues in a while (although, of course, Claiborne and Rita might address Sixth Amendment issues). I am hopeful we have a real shot with Faulks.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
When Justice Scalia sounds like Justice Brennan
I have long joked that if you were to read the Blakely majority opinion with your eyes closed ― which is not easy, but worth the effort ― you might think it was authored by the late Justice Brennan and not Justice Scalia. Though some rhetoric in Blakely is classic Scalia, much of the pro-defendant sentiments are straight from a classic Brennan script. The trend continued with Justice Scalia's work in Gonzales-Lopez last year (commentary here), where Justice Scalia joined and wrote for the "liberal wing" of the Court to affirm the reversal of a drug dealer's conviction based on a debatable interpretation of the Sixth Amendment.
Imprecision and indeterminacy are particularly inappropriate in the application of a criminal statute. Years of prison hinge on the scope of ACCA's residual provision, yet its boundaries are ill defined. If we are not going to deny effect to this statute as being impermissibly vague, see Part III, infra, we have the responsibility to derive from the text rules of application that will provide notice of what is covered and prevent arbitrary or discriminatory sentencing. See Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352, 357 (1983). Offenders should be on notice that a particular course of conduct will result in a mandatory minimum prison term of 15 years. The Court prefers to keep them guessing.
Especially because I think Justice Scalia gets the better of the debate in James, it is disappointing and telling that he does not get the votes of either of the new Justices in this case. Once again it is clear that, at least in the arena of non-capital criminal jurisprudence, President Bush has failed to appoint Justices in the mold of Scalia and Thomas (who dissented on even broader grounds).
Of course, Justice Scalia also sound like himself in his James dissent. I found especially amusing and telling these closing lines:
Congress has simply abdicated its responsibility when it passes a criminal statute insusceptible of an interpretation that enables principled, predictable application; and this Court has abdicated its responsibility when it allows that. Today's opinion permits an unintelligible criminal statute to survive uncorrected, unguided, and unexplained. I respectfully dissent.
Monday, April 09, 2007
Another Amendment to obsess over?
I am just back from a terrific faculty workshop in which Prof. Suja Thomas discussed her latest project that builds off her intriguing essay (now in printing in the Virginia Law Review) entitled "Why Summary Judgment is Unconstitutional." Hearing Suja's presentation and her theory of the Seventh Amendment confirmed my instinct that there are important parallels between the scope and application of the criminal jury trial right safeguarded by the Sixth Amendment and the civil jury trial right safeguarded by Seventh Amendment.
Of course, few should care if I see parallels between between the two jury trial rights that appear in these neighboring provisions of the Bill of Rights. But, since SCOTUS has cases implicating both Sixth and Seventh Amendment jury trial issues pending this term, I am certainly going to be watching closely to see if some Justices start talking up the parallels.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
A caseload calm before another Sixth Amendment storm?
Thanks to How Appealing here, I see that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has issued this press release, headlined "Fiscal Year 2006 Caseloads Remain At High Levels," which discusses the particulars of 2006 federal court caseloads. The press release details that, after record high caseload in 2005 due partially to the impact of Blakely and Booker, district and circuit caseloads settled down just a bit (though still remained quite high).
I doubt that the Cunningham ruling in January or pending reasonableness cases of Claiborne and Rita will have nearly the dramatic caseload impact of Blakely and Booker. Nevertheless, if the Supreme Court ends up scrambling up the modern Sixth Amendment story yet again through its work in Claiborne and Rita, federal courts should gear up for yet another wave of increased litigation.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
It truly is an honor just to be nominated
Arriving in my mail today was a copy of the latest issue of The Green Bag, and the cover letter informed me that "my recent work was nominated as an example of excellent legal scholarship" and received "an honorable mention" in the Green Bag's second annual Almanac & Reader. Since I have have a whole lot of recent work (not just on this blog, but also in more traditional scholarly fora), I turned to the "Recommend Reading" section giddy with anticipation about which work of mine had earned me this great honor.
I was pleased to discover that I was one of 17 persons with a "long article" mentioned in the "Recommend Reading" section of the new Green Bag. And I was even more pleased that the article selection is a piece that is one of my personal favorites, but among my least cited, explorations of the Blakely and Booker revolution: Beyond Blakely and Booker: Pondering Modern Sentencing Process, 95 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 654 (2005).
Monday, January 15, 2007
Still more long weekend sentencing reading
If you have somehow made it through the articles noted here and here, then you are ready for a new Blakely piece now available SSRN here. The piece is by Laura Appleman and entitled "Retributive Justice and Hidden Sentencing After Blakely." Here is the first part of the abstract:
Blakely and its recent progeny have focused attention on a broad swath of fact-finding in sentencing decisions. In doing so, however, they have raised a number of complex questions about how fact-finding operates in the front- and back-ends of sentencing — what I call ancillary, or hidden, sentencing proceedings. These ancillary sentencing proceedings have been almost entirely neglected in post-Blakely case law and scholarship.
Accordingly, this Article re-evaluates a variety of ancillary sentencing proceedings (including pre-sentence reports, prior offender statutes, probation, parole, post-release supervision and restitution) under Blakely. As part of this re-evaluation, I also locate a new paradigm of retributive justice underpinning the Court's recent sentencing decisions. Specifically, I contend that a theory of limited expressive retribution best suits the Court's new sentencing jurisprudence, because it encompasses both the historical antecedents of the 6th Amendment jury right and modern ideals of punishment.
Monday, December 04, 2006
An intriguing note on Blakely and "civil" remedies
The latest issue of the Columbia Law Review includes an interesting Note exploring how Blakely might affect orders of restitution and forfeiture. This Note is entitled "A Civil Jury in Criminal Sentencing: Blakely, Financial Penalties, and the Public Rights Exception to the Seventh Amendment," and is available at this link. Here is the abstract:
In the 2004 case of Blakely v. Washington, the Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment's criminal jury trial right applies not only to the guilt phase of a trial, but also to the sentencing phase. Since then, criminal defendants have brought Sixth Amendment challenges to judge-imposed restitution and forfeiture, arguing that the facts underlying such financial penalties must be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Many circuits have decided that Blakely does not apply to restitution and forfeiture because they are civil remedies, as opposed to criminal penalties, and thus do not fall within the ambit of the Sixth Amendment. This Note argues that, even if restitution and forfeiture are civil in nature, the logic of Blakely suggests that the Seventh Amendment's civil jury right nevertheless applies to such penalties. It then shows how the "public rights" doctrine — a judicial construct in administrative law used to justify exceptions to the Seventh Amendment’s civil jury right — provides constitutional support for exempting certain financial penalties from the reach of Blakely.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Blakely's silver lining (to go with its heart of gold)
Regular readers know I am a fan of the Blakely ruling on its own terms. But critics of Blakely and Booker will want to be sure to check out Joanna Shepard's arguments, set out in her new paper entitled "Blakely's Silver Lining: Sentencing Guidelines, Judicial Discretion, and Crime," that Blakely could ultimately produce a reduction in crime rates. Here is the abstract to this intriguing paper:
The Supreme Court's recent striking down of criminal sentencing guidelines in its Booker and Blakely decisions could have a substantial unexpected benefit: the likely expansion in judicial discretion may reduce crime. I show that, contrary to the expectations of many of the original supporters of sentencing guidelines, guidelines are associated with significant increases in crime. After developing several economic theories of guidelines' impacts, I investigate these impacts empirically using a large state-level data set. This study is the first to use regression analysis to explore the relationship between sentencing guidelines and crime. Results show that guidelines are associated with increases in both violent crime and property crime. If, as is probable, the alternatives to guidelines after Booker and Blakely expand judicial discretion in criminal sentencing, then crime may decrease substantially.
As the abstract reveals, this paper is not really about Blakely and jury trial rights, but rather about the relationship between judicial sentencing discretion and crime rates. The Justice Department has been saying, since Blakely and before, that rigid mandatory sentencing guidelines have helped produce a reduction in crime. This paper seems to argue that the opposite is true. (Personally, I think these complex dynamics cannot be subject to any simple cause-effect relationship.)
UPDATE: Michael Connelly here at Corrections Sentencing has a strong review of this article. He notes some methological concerns and then shares there concluding sentiments:
It's useful for the points it manages to make and for the hole it puts in the conventional wisdom. We need this kind of shakeup of our suppositions. What the article needed was peer review by trained criminologists and political scientists, not folks trained in the narrow cognitive world of law and econ. The author would have had to have made a much better argument, but the one made is one that must be considered by all of us, nevertheless.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
A holiday retrospective on Blakely fireworks
On the last two Independence Days, I have had Blakely on my blog brain. So, to keep up tradition, today I will just link back to these prior July 4th Blakely discussions:
Thursday, June 29, 2006
A Blakely perspective on Clark
The Supreme Court's discussion of due process, insanity and mens rea today in Clark is another example of the challenging intersection of criminal law and psychology. The majority opinion, which rejects various due process claims, is narrowly written so Clark will likely not be a due process watershed ruling. Indeed, what I find most interesting about Clark is how the votes and opinions shake out as compared to cases in the Apprendi-Blakely line.
Intriguingly, Justice Souter authored Clark and he brought along Justices Scalia and Thomas from the Blakely five (as well the newbie Justices) in an opinion that is functional, relatively narrow, and emphasizes the importance of the "State chosen standard[s]." Meanwhile, Justice Kennedy authors a strong dissent, joined by Justices Stevens and Ginsburg, which accuses the majority of "fail[ing] to appreciate the implications for Winship." Winship, of course, is the key due process ruling clarifying the import and reach of the requirement that prosecutors prove elements of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
I am not sure what all this might means for the big Blakely cases on the horizon (perhaps nothing), but it confirms my view that, outside the death penalty context, the traditional liberal/conservative labels and expectations are hard to square with the actual outcomes in a range of large and small criminal justice cases the Court decides.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Blakely turns two ... let's forum!
Two years ago today, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Blakely v. Washington. In my first post after the decision, I commented that "the ramifications of this decision for modern sentencing reforms cannot be overstated," and that there will "be lots and lots more litigation (some of which will surely make its way again to the Supreme Court) about what [Blakely] now means for the operation of structured sentencing systems." As we await a decision from SCOTUS in Recuenco on the nature of Blakely error, and also look forward to two major Blakely cases on the docket next Term (Cunningham and Burton), the accuracy of these predictions are pretty clear.
So, on its birthday, what do you get for Blakely, the sentencing case that has everything? My idea is to honor the day by starting to post any commentary sent my way in response to the "Blakely at two" blog forum I proposed in this post.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Any interest in a "Blakely at two" blog forum?
In light of the cert grant in Burton to address Blakely retroactivity, I am thinking it might be fun to convene a blog forum later this month on Blakely two years later.
By the time of Blakely's two-year anniversary (which is June 24, 2006), we ought to have a decision in Recuenco discussing whether Blakely errors can be subject to harmless-error analysis or instead are structural errors. In addition, this summer will be filled with briefing on both the Burton retroactivity issue and Blakely's fate for California in the Cunningham case. With all this on-going Blakely activity, I wold be especially interested to hear various opinions from various folks about the the state and fate of Blakely two years later.
If readers like this idea, let me know in the comments or via e-mail. And send me an e-mail if you would be interested in participating in such a "Blakely at two" blog forum. Thanks.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Another measure of the impact of Apprendi, Blakely and Booker
TaxProf Blog and the ELS Blog are both talking about the most heavily cited court cases inspired by this recent work by Adam Steinman, which concludes with two fascinating charts in an appendix (at pages 143-45) with the 15 most-cited cases by federal courts and tribunals and the 30 most-cited cases by federal and state courts and tribunals. These charts tell lots of interesting tales, but of course I am zeroed in on the sentencing stories.
Not surprisingly, nearly every case in both of the most-cited charts are at least 20 years old and many cases on the top 30 list of combined federal-state cites are criminal procedure classics like Miranda and Terry and Brady. But, tellingly, there is one more recent case cracking the top 30 list of combined federal-state case cites, Apprendi v. New Jersey, even though that decision was a mere five years old when Steinman ran these numbers in June 2005.
In addition, with the help of a few quick Westlaw searches, I think an updated chart of these cite counts might already have both Blakely and Booker cracking the top 30 list of combined federal-state case cites. By these measures, there is now some support for my (over-heated?) claim in this seemingly long-ago Slate piece that Blakely might be "the biggest criminal justice decision not just of this past term, not just of this decade, not just of the Rehnquist Court, but perhaps in the history of the Supreme Court."
Monday, March 20, 2006
Eighth Circuit affirms another lengthy sentence for an uncharged murder
In his opinion for the Court in Blakely, Justice Scalia assails the notion that the Sixth Amendment could mean that a "jury need only find whatever facts legislature chooses to label elements of the crime, and that those it labels sentencing factors — no matter how much they may increase the punishment — may be found by the judge." The problem, explains Justice Scalia, is that this "would mean, for example, that a judge could sentence a man for committing murder even if the jury convicted him only of illegally possessing the firearm used to commit it...."
If this possibility truly concerns Justice Scalia and other members of the Blakely majority, the Supreme Court ought to be interested in a cert. petition coming from today's unpublished decision by the Eighth Circuit in US v. Rashaw, No. 05-1839 (8th Cir. Mar. 20, 2006) (available here). As detailed in the first paragraph, the Rashaw case fits Justice Scalia's description:
A jury convicted Geoffrey L. Rashaw on two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of possessing an unregistered firearm. At Rashaw's post-Booker sentencing, the government presented evidence that Rashaw possessed firearms in connection with a double homicide. Based on the evidence, the district court set Rashaw's base offense level at 43 ... [which under the] sentencing guidelines set the sentence at life imprisonment. Because statutory provisions limited the sentence on each count to ten years, however, the court sentenced Rashaw to three consecutive 120-month terms of imprisonment under U.S.S.G. § 5G1.2(d).
As the Eighth Circuit explains, "Rashaw appeals arguing the 360-month sentence is unreasonable because the district court expressly based the sentence on a finding that he had committed an unrelated, uncharged double murder." In addition, Rashaw "argues that under United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), the double murder had to be found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, rather than by a judge on a preponderance of the evidence." The Eighth Circuit is unconvinced:
Because the district court applied the guidelines in an advisory manner, the court could find sentence-enhancing facts by a preponderance of the evidence.... The double murder was relevant conduct that was properly considered in deciding Rashaw's guidelines range and the factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).
So, as Justice Scalia feared, Rashaw is convicted at trial of illegal possession of firearms, and gets 30 years for uncharged murders. But this case does not exactly fit Justice Scalia's description: the Eighth Circuit notes that "Rashaw points out the guns he possessed with respect to his sentence were not involved in the double homicide." No problem, says the Eighth Circuit: "The § 2K2.1 enhancement for using a firearm in another felony need not be the same firearm involved in the offense of conviction." Wow!
If Blakely's procedural rights are ever going to have any bite in an "advisory" federal sentencing system, this Rashaw case would seem to be a good vehicle for testing the courage of the Blakely five's convictions. And I continue to wonder what Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts, if they share aspects of Justice Scalia's judicial philosophy, might think about cases of this sort.
Related posts on uncharged murder sentencing:
- Sentenced for an uncharged murder
- Sentenced for three uncharged murders
- Seventh Circuit upholds upward departure based on uncharged (and unproven?) crimes
- Eleventh Circuit approves sentences based on hearsay evidence of uncharged murders
March 20, 2006 in Blakely Commentary and News, Booker and Fanfan Commentary, Booker in the Circuits, Federal Sentencing Guidelines, Offense Characteristics, Procedure and Proof at Sentencing | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
The federal litigation shock of Blakely and Booker
With thanks to How Appealing, I see that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has issued this news release which documents some of the impact of Blakely and Booker on the workload of the federal courts. Here are some criminal law filing details from the release:
Criminal appeals jumped 28 percent in FY 2005 to 16,060, with growth in cases related to nearly all types of crimes. The most significant increases were in appeals related to drug offenses (up 31 percent to 6,099); immigration (up 55 percent to 2,896); firearms and explosives (up 23 percent to 2,505); and property (up 15 percent to 1,967)....
Original proceedings [in circuit courts] climbed 23 percent to 5,017 as state and federal prisoners filed 3,617 second or successive motions for permission to file habeas corpus petitions (up 42 percent) following the Supreme Court's decisions in Blakely v. Washington and U.S. v. Booker....
The new release also has some interesting data in changes in the case mix of criminal filings in the federal district courts:
Nationwide, criminal filings in the U.S. district courts fell 2 percent to 69,575 in FY 2005, and the number of defendants in these cases dropped 1 percent to 92,226. Despite the overall decline, increases occurred in cases involving drugs other than marijuana, sex offenses, and immigration offenses.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Ohio defenders seek reconsideration of Foster's retroactive application
Today brings an interesting development in the saga of Blakely's application to Ohio's sentencing law. Recall that last week, the Ohio Supreme Court in Foster found Blakely applicable to Ohio's structured sentencing system and adopted a Booker-type remedy (basics here, commentary here and here and here). Now, the Foster defendants and a supporting amicus have filed for reconsideration in the Ohio Supreme Court claiming that the "retroactive application of this case's remedy to persons who committed their criminal offenses prior to the release of the Opinion, violates clearly established United States Supreme Court precedent regarding ex post facto and due process."
I have provided links to two briefs filed in support of this motion for reconsideration. Here is a portion of the argument summary from Amicus Curiae Cuyahoga County Public Defender:
Your amicus' argument against retroactive application to persons who committed their offenses prior to 9:00 a.m. on February 27, 2006, can be summarized as follows. At the time of the offense conduct, the criminal defendant enjoyed, as a standard range of punishment, a presumptive sentence of minimum and concurrent terms of imprisonment; a trial judge could only overcome that presumption by making statutorily prescribed findings. This Court correctly held that, because the trial judge and not a jury was entrusted with making these findings, the statutory scheme violated the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury as interpreted by Blakely. In its opinion in the instant case at “Part V. Remedy,” ¶¶ 84-102, this Court has eliminated the presumptive sentence, thus relieving the trial judge of having to make any findings whatsoever before imposing a sentence at any point in the statutory range and before ordering terms of imprisonment to be served consecutively to one another.
Applied prospectively, this Court's employment of severance to save the statutory scheme from an unconstitutional interpretation, as a general matter, does not violate ex post facto and the due process considerations attendant thereto. However, when applied to those persons whose crimes were already committed, this Court's remedy unconstitutionally changes the rules to the defendant's detriment by stripping defendants of the protections of the presumptions discussed above. Just as the General Assembly could not amend the statutory scheme in this manner and legislate that the new scheme apply to those whose crimes have already been committed, this Court is precluded from doing the same.
UPDATE: The ACLU of Ohio has also filed a brief seeking reconsideration of the Foster remedy. The ACLU brief, which can be downloaded below, stresses separation of powers concerns. Here is a snippet:
The ACLU files this supporting brief as amicus to address [its] concern that ... Foster violates the separation of powers by usurping the legislative function specifically and exclusively allocated to the General Assembly.
March 8, 2006 in Blakely Commentary and News, Blakely in the States, Blakely in the Supreme Court, Sentences Reconsidered, State Sentencing Guidelines, Who Sentences? | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack