Blakely: Federal Judge in Florida Declares Sentencing Guidelines Unconstitutional

Law Prof Doug Berman of Sentencing Law and Policy reports that in a first Blakely ruling from the federal courts in Florida, United States District Judge Gregory A. Presnell of the Middle District of Florida (Orlando division) finds the federal sentencing guidelines unconstitutional in their entirety. The case is US v. King, No. 6:04-cr-35. Some quotes:

Taking Blakely to its logical conclusion, the determinate scheme set up by the Guidelines violates the Constitution and can no longer be used in any case. The Court notes, however, that despite a return to an indeterminate sentencing scheme, it will continue to rely on the Guidelines as recommendations worthy of serious consideration. Slip op. at p. 12 (emphasis added).

....The suggestion that courts use the Guidelines in some cases but not others is at best schizophrenic and at worst contrary to basic principles of justice, practicality, fairness, due process, and equal protection. Courts simply cannot apply a determinate sentencing code to one defendant whose sentence raises no judicial fact-finding enhancement issues and a separate discretionary scheme to another defendant whose sentence does raise enhancement issues. Such a structure not only seems to violate equal protection principles but would lead to the perverse result that both Government and criminal defense attorneys would plot to finagle their way into the determinate system or indeterminate system depending on the judge and the various factors relevant to the particular defendant’s sentence.

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