January 15, 2009
Ruling keeps Oregon criminals from being resentenced
A Marion County case resulted Wednesday in a U.S. Supreme Court decision that keeps hundreds of Oregon criminals from having to be resentenced.
The case was argued Oct. 14, while Hardy Myers was still Oregon attorney general. The 5-4 decision by the nation's highest court upholds the state's position and reverses the Oregon Supreme Court, which ruled in October 2007 that a jury had to make factual findings before a judge can impose consecutive prison sentences on a criminal.
“This is a big win for law enforcement in Oregon,” said Attorney General John Kroger, who succeeded Myers on Jan. 5.
Under Myers, Oregon won all six cases it argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, including a 2006 decision upholding the state’s assisted-suicide law.
In an interview a few days before he ended his 12-year tenure, Myers said the issue before the justices was whether the state and federal constitutional rights to a jury trial also cover findings on which judges base prison sentences.
“A jury would not have been pronouncing a sentence,” Myers said. “But the jury would have been determining facts that control whether the court could impose (longer) consecutive sentences.” [Mark Godsey]
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