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November 27, 2004

Broad public support of juries and Blakely

In the Indianapolis Star today is this editoral calling upon the Indiana Supreme Court, which earlier this month heard the two Blakely cases of Heath and Smylie (background here and here), to rule that the "state must stop issuing criminal sentences based on evidence not considered during trial."  Though a bit legally garbled, the editorial provides further evidence that there is broad public support for Blakely and the decision's essential "pro-jury" principle.

Additional evidence of this broad public support can be found in this Houston Chronicle op-ed from earlier this month, which asserts that defendants should be "sentenced only for crimes the jury actually finds them guilty of. That's not only justice, it's also common sense."  And, as previously detailed here, in September a Seattle Times editorial highlighted that both candidates for an open seat on the Washington Supreme Court backed Blakely:

[Candidate Jim] Johnson and [rival Mary Kay] Becker both support the U.S. Supreme Court's Blakely decision. There, the court said that in sentencing a felon, a judge could not add three years for cruelty if the cruelty had not been proven to a jury. "The right of trial by jury is fundamental," Becker said. "Those might sound like 'liberal' sentiments, but they are really also conservative."

November 27, 2004 at 09:00 AM | Permalink


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I am a newbie professor so take my comments with a grain of salt. While Blakely may appear to be a pro-jury opinion, a close read reveals that it is not. Justice Scalia quite easily allowed for what are now known as "Blakely waivers." If a defendant can waive his/her right to a jury trial for the offense of conviction, he or she can also waive his/her right jury trial as to facts that might enhance his/her sentence. We need to take a closer look at what role the jury plays in our system of government, beyond an individual right waivable by the defendant.

Posted by: Jackie Gardina | Nov 30, 2004 4:18:28 PM

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