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Study the case studies listed in this week’s reading assignments (listed below), and discuss the following:
Which of the cases illustrate determinate and indeterminate sentencing structures? Explain your rationale.
Evaluate the effectiveness of the sentencing models as well as the practical implications of the public policies behind each case.
Assignment Objectives: Evaluate the sentencing process and procedures
INSTRUCTOR’S INSIGHTFUL COMMENTS REGARDING GRADING MATERIAL: “What am I looking for? Be sure to answer the two bullet points in the listed assignment with precision to detail; explain your rationale. Be thorough in your evaluation of the effectiveness of the sentencing models as well as the practical implications of each case. As far as coming up with enough information, start to think about how sentencing polices affect the public, such as victims, innocent by standards, how does it effect family members of the defendant, victim ect…….. You do not have to just pick one of these cases. You can also talk about how presumptive sentences are not mandatory and that a judge does not deviate from the guidelines because it would cause an appeal to be filed. Be thorough with your answers and use scholarly resources. Good luck, B. Kline.”
Blakely v. Washington 542 U.S. 296 (2004)
United States v. Booker 543 U.S. 220 (2005)
United States v. Kimbrough 552 U.S. 85 (2007)
Lynch, G. E. (2005). SENTENCING: LEARNING FROM, AND WORRYING ABOUT, THE STATES. Columbia Law Review, 105(4), 933-942.
Bowman, F. O. (2005). THE FAILURE OF THE FEDERAL SENTENCING GUIDELINES: A STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS. Columbia Law Review, 105(4), 1315-1350.
Robinson, P. H., & Spellman, B. A. (2005). SENTENCING DECISIONS: MATCHING THE DECISIONMAKER TO THE DECISION NATURE. Columbia Law Review, 105(4), 1124-1161.
COPIED FOR YOUR CONVIENCE OUT OF CHAPTER 9
TEXTBOOK: Criminal Courts: Structure, Process, and Issues
3rd Edition 2012 Pearson Education
AUTHORS: Dean John Champion, Richard D. Hartley, Gary A. Rabe
Blakely v. Washington (Chapter 9 page 224)
United States v Booker (Chapter 9 page 224)
United States v. Kimbrough (Chapter 9 page 225)
Blakely v. Washington 542 U.S. 296 (2004) Pursuant to a plea bargain agreement in Washington, Ralph Blakely pleaded guilty to kidnap- ping his estranged wife and was convicted of second-degree kidnapping involving domestic violence and the use of a firearm. In his plea agreement, Blakely admitted to the kidnapping and to limited facts that supported a maximum sentence of 53 months under Washington’s guide- lines sentencing scheme. However, the judge rejected the prosecutor’s recommended 49- to 53-month sentence and instead imposed an exceptional sentence of 90 months, 37 months longer than contemplated by the plea agreement. The judge justified his departure because of “deliberate cruelty” exhibited by Blakely, because the maximum sentence is up to ten years, and because “deliberate cruelty” is an aggravating factor under Washington’s Sentencing Reform Act. Blakely appealed, contending that this sentencing procedure denied him the right to have a jury determine all facts legally essential to his sentence. The Washington Supreme Court denied Blakely’s appeal and the case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Blakely’s 90-month sentence, holding that because the facts supporting Blakely’s exceptional sentence were neither admitted in the plea agreement nor found by a jury, the sentence violated his Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury. The U.S. Supreme Court elabo- rated, stating the trial judge could not have imposed the exceptional 90-month sentence solely on the basis of the facts admitted in the guilty plea. According to U.S. Supreme Court prece- dent, statutory maximum sentences are maximum sentences judges may impose solely on the basis of the facts reflected in a jury verdict or admitted by the defendant. The U.S. Supreme Court further noted that this decision does not question Washington’s sentencing guidelines scheme or its constitutionality. Rather, it reflects the scope of judicial discretion in sentencing under the circumstances of this case.
United States v. Booker 543 U.S. 220 (2005) Booker and another defendant in an unrelated case, Fanfan, were convicted in separate jury trials in different federal district courts of cocaine distribution. In Booker’s case, a 21-year, 10-month sentence was prescribed for his conviction offense by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. However, during the sentencing hearing, the judge found additional facts by a preponderance of the evidence to support a sentence of 360 months to life and gave Booker a 30-year sentence. In Fanfan’s case, a judge made a similar finding and imposed a harsher sentence, 16 years instead of the 6 years prescribed by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, on Fanfan. Both cases were appealed, Booker’s to the Seventh Circuit and Fanfan’s to the First Circuit. Both circuit courts overturned these convictions, holding that any fact(s) that increase the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The government appealed both cases and the U.S. Supreme Court heard them. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court decisions and vacated the enhanced sentences for both Booker and Fanfan. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the federal sentencing guidelines are subject to Sixth Amendment jury trial requirements, and that if a judge authorizes a punishment on the finding of a fact, that fact, no matter how the judge labels it, must be found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
United States v. Kimbrough 552 U.S. 85 (2007) The Kimbrough case has to do with the mandatory minimum trigger ratio between powder and crack cocaine. During the Reagan administration’s war on drugs, Congress passed a law requiring a five-year mandatory minimum for those convicted of possession of 500 grams of cocaine powder; the same five-year minimum would apply to someone convicted of possessing only five grams of crack cocaine. This law created a 100–1 disparity in the trigger for the minimum. Kimbrough pleaded guilty to distribution of 50 grams of crack cocaine. Under the federal sentencing guidelines Kimbrough’s sentence ranged from 19 to 221/2 years. The judge in the case believed that this sentence was too harsh and gave Kimbrough 15 years instead citing the ruling in Booker. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rejected the sentence citing that a judge can- not depart from the guidelines due to disagreement with federal sentencing policy. The Supreme Court in a 7–2 opinion in favor of the judge and Kimbrough reversed the Fourth Circuit stating that because Booker made the guidelines advisory, the judge could reasonably depart from the presumptive sentence. This case set precedent for the idea that the district courts can deviate from the 100:1 crack-to-powder cocaine sentencing minimum ratio.
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