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May 30, 2007

Arguments over Cunningham's consequences

As detailed in articles from the San Francisco Chronicle and the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, the California Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral argument in a set of cases dealing with the fallout of the Supreme Court's Cunningham decision.  Here are snippets from the Chronicle's report:

The prison terms of hundreds of inmates were at stake Tuesday as the California Supreme Court tried to determine how much power trial judges have to increase sentences in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring the state's sentencing system unconstitutional. 

The state justices heard two cases in San Francisco that will set standards for sentences cast in doubt by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in January.  In that ruling, the court said a 1977 California law allowing judges to add years to the sentence prescribed by the jury verdict violates the constitutional right to a jury trial....

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, legislators hurriedly passed a prosecution-backed bill that lets judges choose any of the three terms without making factual findings.  The new law took effect March 30 and is scheduled to expire in two years, giving lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger time to consider alternatives that may include establishment of a sentencing commission with authority to propose wholesale changes. 

The law does not apply to prisoners sentenced before March 30, the subject of Tuesday's cases. The state Supreme Court's rulings, due within 90 days, will probably determine the outcome of more than 100 cases pending before it and hundreds of cases in lower courts.

May 30, 2007 at 04:55 PM | Permalink


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The Tennessee post-Cuinningham case --- Gomez --- goes before the Tn Sp Ct on D-Day.

Posted by: David Raybin | May 31, 2007 12:38:45 AM

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