CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More on Cunningham v. California

Like Mark posted, in a 6-3 ruling yesterday, SCOTUS rejected California's 30 year-old sentencing law.  The crux of the the ruling is that judges cannot increase prison terms based on evidence that was never considered by a jury.  While the ruling is unlikely to benefit a significant segment of California's bulging prison population, legal experts say it should influence state leaders as they press forward with plans to overhaul the state's sentencing system.  Thousands of California inmates will now have a basis to argue for modest breaks in their sentences. The Supreme Court ruling, however, does not impact California's three-strikes-and-you're-out law or most serious criminals facing potential life terms for murder, rape and other violent felonies. More likely it will affect the typical felony case against burglars, robbers and defendants who commit sexual assault who do not face those stiff punishments

For prosecutors and defense lawyers, it could take months to evaluate the complex ruling and its consequences for inmates doing time. Michael Kresser, director of a San Jose-based appellate project that handles the bulk of criminal appeals from the South Bay, estimates he has about 200 cases from Santa Clara and nearby counties in which defendants may be able to argue for a sentencing break. Full story from San Jose Mercury. . . [Michele Berry]

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2007/01/more_on_cunning.html

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