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November 5, 2004

Further narrowing of Blakely's reach in the states

We have seen state courts find all sorts of ways to limit the reach of Blakely, and noteworthy recent cases from Arizona and Indiana continue the trend. In State v. Arciniega Martinez, 2004 WL 2474976 (Ariz. App. Div. 1, Nov. 04, 2004), and Wickliff v. State, 2004 WL 2453041 (Ind. App. Nov. 03, 2004), state intermediate courts find clever and questionable ways to keep Blakely from disrupting a sentence on review.

In Arciniega Martinez, the Arizona court explains that "a jury need not find every aggravator upon which a sentencing judge relies [and] Blakely error is subject to harmless error or fundamental error analysis and may or may not require reversal based on the facts of a particular case."  There are many interesting features of the Arciniega Martinez court's holding and analysis, and perhaps the most noteworthy passage explains:

Because the jury found at least one aggravating factor, defendant was eligible to receive an aggravated sentence, and the trial court's weighing of additional aggravating and mitigating circumstances to determine the appropriate sentence within the aggravated range was permissible. Put another way, the jury having found the existence of one aggravating factor, its verdict expanded the sentencing range and the scope of the trial court's sentencing discretion. When one aggravating factor is authorized by the jury, Blakely is satisfied.

A similar approach and logic is applied in Wickliff, where the court details that various criminal history issues and facts admitted by the defendant supported an enhacned sentence and then explains:

Whether or not Indiana's sentencing scheme runs afoul of the Sixth Amendment, Wickliff's sentence would not be affected because even a single valid aggravating circumstance is sufficient to justify enhancement of a sentence Here, there were two valid aggravating circumstances identified by the court justifying enhancement of Wickliff's sentence.

UPDATE: A reader has provided a direct link here to the Arizona appellate court's decision in Arciniega Martinez.

November 5, 2004 at 06:49 AM | Permalink


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