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September 16, 2008

"When Acquitted Doesn't Mean Acquitted"

The title of this posts is the title of this long piece at ABC News on one of my favorite modern sentencing litigation topics. The full title of the piece is "When Acquitted Doesn't Mean Acquitted: Judges Can Sentence Criminals to Longer Prison Terms Even After a Jury Has Acquitted Them," and here is an excerpt from the article discussing a few recent cases that regular readers of this blog know well:

The Supreme Court has called the right to a jury trial one of the foundations of American law. But at same time, the Court has given judges broad discretion in meting out sentences under the now-advisory federal sentencing guidelines, allowing them to consider conduct that the jury never considered or found a defendant not guilty of committing.

The issue has come up in several recent cases around the country. Earlier this year, in the case of a Madison, Wis., man who was sentenced to an additional 15 years in prison for possession of crack cocaine, the Supreme Court declined to reconsider its Watts decision.  Mark Hurn was convicted of possessing powder cocaine, which would have sent him to prison for about three years, according to federal sentencing guidelines, but acquitted of crack cocaine possession. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

In Washington, D.C., federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence Antwuan Ball to the 40-year statutory maximum prison sentence for selling 11 grams of cocaine, though Ball was acquitted of every other count in a massive drug and murder conspiracy trial that lasted eight months.  Ball's lawyer says Ball should be sentenced to about six years in prison under the sentencing guidelines for the drug charge.

Some related posts on acquitted conduct sentencing enhancements:

September 16, 2008 at 09:35 AM | Permalink


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At least ONE major news outlet has picked up on this disturbing and disgusting national issue. Will it change anything? Not likely.

Defenders of this draconian policy will try to explain it away with cerebral legal arguments and lofty statutory discussions.

But wrong is wrong. And you can put as much lipstick on that pig as you want.

Posted by: babalu | Sep 16, 2008 5:01:38 PM

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