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October 18, 2004

Living with severed federal guidelines

At the Oklahoma City sentencing conference I attended last week, WD Okla US Attorney Robert McCampbell made the terrific point that, because of the Ninth Circuit's decision in US v. Ameline, 376 F.3d 967 (9th Cir. 2004), the federal system is already gaining some experience dealing with Blakely-ized guidelines. I would be very eager to hear from folks working in the federal system in the Ninth Circuit about how life is under Ameline. Is the sky falling, or has the dust already settled in a reasonable way? Do lawyers (or school-children) throughout the Circuit sing the song, "Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Ameline"?

My sense from reading the caselaw is that the Ninth Circuit is figuring out ways to cope with Ameline. The latest evidence comes from US v. Smith, No. 03-30482 (9th Cir. Oct. 15, 2004) where the court was able to conclude that it faced "no Ameline problem in this case ... because the enhancement is supported by admitted facts and by the jury verdict, not by district court factual findings." I wonder whether this is a sign of the Ninth Circuit times, and that life with severed federal guidelines is manageable, or whether the world of federal sentencing in fact is terribly chaotic in the Ninth Circuit.

October 18, 2004 at 01:45 PM | Permalink


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"no Ameline problem in this case ... because the enhancement is supported by admitted facts . . . .
This is why my office filed an Amicus Brief on the issue of admissions acting as waivers of constitutional rights.

Posted by: doug morris | Oct 18, 2004 3:48:05 PM

As a clerk for a federal district judge in California, we are not having much trouble adjusting to the post Ameline world. The probation officers prepare their PSR and sentencing recommendation in accordance with Ameline, using the facts that Defendant admits to in the plea agreement. The AUSAs generally do not attempt to get around this by arguing for upward departures, etc. Our court conducts 3 sentencing proceedings each week and I would estimate that a contested Blakely issue only arises once a month at the most.

Posted by: CC | Oct 19, 2004 7:22:20 PM

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