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August 29, 2019

Readings for wrapping up "whos" and heading into the capital sentencing world

As mentioned in our last class, we will start wrapping up our formal "who" unit by reviewing the latest, greatest Supreme Court sentencing case, United States v. Haymond, 139 S. Ct. 2369 (June 26, 2019).  You are welcome to read Haymond in any form, and the full SCOTUS slip opinion can be accessed at this link.

For maximum appreciation and understanding, you should be sure to read McMillan and Blakely in our text before turning to Haymond.  I doubt we will get through all three of these cases on Wednesday after the long holiday break, but I might try.  (Students are highly encouraged to start any discussions of McMillan and Blakely and Haymond in the notes, if so inclined.)

Thereafter, we will turn to an (all-too-quick) review of capital sentencing law, procedures and practices.  As the syllabus reveals, the readings for this unit (which will keep us busy through most of the rest of September) are to be provided via handouts.  Those handouts will be provided in hard-copy in class, but I wanted to provide links here to electronic copies:

Chapter 3, Topic A: Regulation of Discretion in Capital Sentencing

Electronic Chapter 9: Race, Gender, and Class in Sentencing

I plan to cover the first 69 manuscript pages in the Chapter 3 materials linked here and the first 21 pages manuscript pages in the Chapter 9 materials linked here.  (Of course, you are always welcome to read more.)

August 29, 2019 in Class activities, Who decides | Permalink


"Let justice be done through the heavens fall"-- a decision's adverse practical consequences should not keep courts from rendering justice.

Justice Alito's dissent attempts to justify depriving a criminal defendant of liberty without due process and of their constitutional right to a jury's finding under a "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" standard by proffering arguments fueled by anxiety about the uncertainty of possible remedies, the potential impact of the decision on precedent/ on stability of the current supervised release system, and efficiency-based ($) concerns.

Justice Alito's efficiency argument as a justification for depriving criminal defendants of their constitutional rights is particularly unconvincing.
"Federal courts have [a lot] of jury trials and revocations of supervised release proceedings... and there is simply no way that the federal courts could empanel enough juries to adjudicate all those proceedings, let alone try all those proceedings in accordance with the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause... the whole concept of supervised release will come crashing down"

Perhaps such a scheme SHOULD come crashing down (and be rebuilt in a constitutional manner) if it allows congress to force judges to imprison offenders far longer than the jury's conviction provided without the due process safeguards that the constitution explicitly provides. Justice Scalia would have been proud of Justice Gorsuch's opinion. May he rest in peace.


Posted by: Mariah L Daly | Sep 3, 2019 7:42:17 PM

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