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March 7, 2005

Today's other SCOTUS sentencing ruling

Because I have been focused on today's SCOTUS GVRs and the Shepard craziness, I have not yet completely taken in the Supreme Court's other notable sentencing decision today.  In Wilkinson v. Dotson, No. 03-287 (S. Ct. Mar. 7, 2005) (available here), the Court ruled 8-1 that state prisoners challenging the constitutionality of state parole procedures are not limited to pursuing relief via federal habeas, but may bring a § 1983 action for declaratory and injunctive relief.  This AP report provides a few more details.

The intricacies of these issues actually make Apprendi doctrines seem simple, and the ruling makes me wonder whether a number of state defendants might now try to challenge a range of state sentencing procedures via § 1983 actions.  Readers are highly encouraged to use the comments to detail whether they think Dotson might bring a new wave of § 1983 litigation.

UPDATE:  Mike over at Crime & Federalism has two great posts on Dotson: this one reviews the basics of the case; this one suggests, rightly I believe, that we may see a slew of § 1983 actions challenging parole procedures.

March 7, 2005 at 05:32 PM | Permalink


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[Ed's note: Bumped and upated.] Unless you're concerned with prisoner's rights litigation, or you're a 1983 wonk, do not read below the fold. [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 7, 2005 7:34:26 PM


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