Washington, DC (June 24, 2004) -- Beyond a doubt, today’s decision in Blakely spells the end of sentencing guidelines -- as we know them. The decision does not represent a step backward from the goal of sentencing reform, but a great leap forward, because it stands for the proposition that no defendant in a U.S. court will be punished for an unproven crime.
The key issue in Blakely was that the judge found a fact, after the defendant’s plea, that increased his sentence by almost three years. It has always been NACDL''s position that facts that substantially increase a defendant's sentence should be admitted by the defendant at his guilty plea or found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Today’s decision is a logical application of that principle. As Justice Scalia said in the opinion of the Court, it is too much to believe that the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers was “duped” into taking the wrong side on such an important issue as fairness in criminal proceedings.
In NACDL’s friend of the court brief, authors Adam Steinman, Sheryl Gordon McCloud and David M. Porter wrote that "failing to apply Apprendi to exceptional sentences upward creates a situation where a defendant may be punished for a crime that no jury has considered -- much less delivered a verdict of conviction -- and for which the ... reasonable doubt standard has not and cannot be met."
Justice O’Connor, dissenting, wrote that the effect of today’s decision would be less uniformity of sentencing and that “20 years of sentencing reform are all but lost.” Under the federal sentencing guidelines, a defendant who is charged with 10 offenses and convicted only of one of the charges can still be sentenced as if he had been convicted of all 10. If by “sentencing reform” O’Connor means that a defendant, a judge, and even a prosecutor who worked together to craft a reasonable plea bargain can be blindsided by an unproven allegation at sentencing that might add 3 or 10 or 30 years to a defendant’s bargained-for sentence, then perhaps she is right. But if sentencing reform is to mean truth in sentencing, where only the facts proven or pled to are punished, then her despair is misplaced.
Today’s case does not condemn sentencing guidelines to death. In fact, we believe that they just got a great deal healthier.
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
NACDL Communications Department
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.