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June 30, 2005

Big Blakely rulings from the ends of the Union

State Blakely developments continue to unfold in fascinating ways nationwide, and yesterday brought state Supreme Court rulings of note from Maine and Hawaii.  And the opinions from both ends of the union spotlight yet again the confusion and uncertainty that the US Supreme Court has created through its Booker spin on the Blakely decision.

From Maine, the big news, as summarized in this AP article, is that the state's Supreme Judicial Court concluded in two opinions that a Maine sentencing statute allowing increased sentences for the "most heinous crimes committed against a person" requires a jury determination of heinousness after Blakely. rendered yesterday a set of opinions interpreting Blakely.  These opinions, State v. Schofield, 2005 ME 82 (Maine June 29, 2005) (available here), State v. Averill, 2005 ME 83 (Maine June 29, 2005) (available here), split the main Justices 4-3, with the dissenters maintaining that a determination of heinousness is not the type of fact traditionally submitted to a jury.   (In a third ruling, State v. Miller, 2005 ME 84 (Maine June 29, 2005) (available here), the court ruled unanimously that there was no constitutional problem with judicial fact-finding in discretionary sentencing under distinct statutory provisions.)

From Hawaii, the big news is that the state's Supreme Court in Hawaii v. Maugaotega, 2005 WL 1525107 (Hawaii June 29, 2005) (available here, dissent here), held that "our approach to Hawaii's extended term sentencing scheme, as explicated in [prior rulings] Kaua and Rivera, is not at odds with United States v. Booker, inasmuch as (1) Booker's holding is limited to the federal sentencing guidelines, and (2) Hawaii's extended term sentencing structure is not mandatory."   This is especially noteworthy because, as detailed in posts here and here, though the state Supreme Court has previously upheld constitutionality of Hawaii's extended term sentencing, a federal district court considering a habeas petition ruled last December that Hawaii's extended term sentencing scheme runs afoul of Apprendi and Blakely.

The decisions in Schofield and Maugaotega are both quite interesting and thoughtful, and they both reflect well on state high courts doing their best to make sense of the messy sentencing jurisprudence that the US Supreme Court has produced with Blakely and Booker.

UPDATE: With thanks to Howard Bashman for the pointer, here is a local story on the Maine ruling in SchofieldAND: Here is a local press story on Maugaotega.

June 30, 2005 at 09:30 AM | Permalink


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I am the mother of a son who is in fed. prison for conspiracy to distribute cocain and cocain base. He was sentenced to 235 months. He appealed his sentence with apprindi and was turned down by the 4th circut court of appeals in 2002. Is there a chance to use Blakley on the grounds that we used the 5th and 6th amendment in our first appeal?

Posted by: Alice Fisher | Jul 23, 2005 10:54:19 AM

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