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April 21, 2005

The enduring the importance of Almendarez-Torres

Thanks to fellow bloggers, I see some two interesting developments on the "prior convictions" front: (1) Michael Ausbrook over at INCourts has this insightful post which discusses an Indiana Supreme Court ruling on the application of the state's repeat sexual offender sentencing enhancement; and (2) Appellate Law & Practice reports here on the Fifth Circuit's mass rejection of  appeals challenging sentencing enhancements based on prior convictions.  Both items reinforce my sense that the Almendarez-Torres "prior conviction exception" is a terribly important aspect of the modern sentencing universe and that the Supreme Court ought to definitely resolve its status as soon as possible.

April 21, 2005 at 09:35 PM | Permalink


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It's not unusual for the 5th Circuit to unload dozens of denials of Apprendi/Almendarez-Torres appeals all at once. That happened regularly even before Shepard questioned, yet again, the prior conviction exception. If you see the Fives issue an unusally large number of unpublished opinions all at once in cases in which the defendant has a hyphenated last name, you can assume with a high degree of confidence that they're Apprendi/A-T appeals.

You are correct, however, that the A-T exception is hugely important, if for no other reason than that the offense at issue in A-T, illegal reentry under 8 U.S.C. s 1326, accounts for a substantial chunk of federal sentencings.

Posted by: anon | Apr 22, 2005 12:31:44 AM

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