Booker and Fan Fan Decisions In on Sentencing Guidelines
The Supreme Court ruled today in the Booker and Fan Fan cases and the validity of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. [scroll down for links to opinions] In Booker (the case in which the defendant is represented by TalkLeft's contributing blogger TChris, who also argued the case before the High Court), the Court ruled against the Government and in favor of TChris's client. Congratulations, TChris.
Justice Stevens opinion addresses the first question on appeal, whether Blakely should be affirmed, and the Court agrees it should. Justice Breyer answers the second question as to whether the Guidelines are constitutional. Essentially, they aren't, but the invalid parts can be excised and the remainder can stay as advisory but not mandatory.
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that federal judges have been improperly adding time to criminals' sentences, a decision that puts in doubt longtime sentencing rules. The court, on a 5-4 vote, said that its ruling last June that juries - not judges - should consider factors that can add years to defendants' prison sentences applies as well to the 17-year-old federal guideline system.
The justices refused to backtrack from a 5-4 decision that struck down a state sentencing system because it gave judges too much leeway in sentencing. But the high court stopped short of striking down the federal system.
So what are the implications for everyone else? Justice Breyer in his opinion said the Guidelines are not mandatory, but Courts must consider them when sentencing. I'll add the link to the opinions as soon as they are in, but here's the gist of the rulings from Scotus Blog:
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