Monday, September 06, 2004

Tennessee courts struggling with Blakely

The Johnson City paper (registration required) has this article ("Supreme Court ruling leads to confusion for local lawyers, judges," 9/6/04) focusing on the state court effects in Tennessee of the Supreme Court's ruling in Blakely.

Defense lawyers quoted in the article conclude the impact will be revolutionary in Tennessee, as it will limit the issues a judge may consider in deciding whether to impose an enhanced sentence to the prior criminal record of the defendant.

A prosecutor notes that one court in Western Tennessee has conducted a bifurcated criminal trial, to allow the jury to decide fact issues related to sentencing, but said there is no authority for such bifurcation and that he hopes the legislation will not make bifurcation a future requirement. Bifurcated trials, he says, "could make it extraordinarily complex and greatly increase the backlog of cases."

Virginia law, by contrast, provides for bifurcated criminal trials, apparently without these docket effects.

This page from the website of the Administrative Office for Tennessee's courts, this press release, and this link to the Executive Order itself describe Governor Bredesen's Task Force on the Use of Enhancement Factors in Criminal Sentencing, which will meet against on September 17, as it considers whether a special session of the legislature is necessary to protect the Tennessee Criminal Sentencing Reform Act.

The TnCrimLaw website has a link to this TBJ article on the effect of Blakely in Tennessee.

No comments: