Why Sentencing by a Judge Fulfills the Right to Jury Trial: A Comparative Law Look at Blakely and Booker
Susan F. Mandiberg
Lewis & Clark Law School
August 17, 2007
Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2007-14
McGeorge Law Review, Forthcoming
This article examines the basis for the United States Supreme Court's invalidation of twenty-five years of sentencing reform by state legislatures and Congress. Sentencing by a judge violates the Sixth Amendment right to jury trial when the legislature mandates the nature and weight of the sentencing factors; it does not violate that right when the judge has discretion within a range set by the legislature. The Court is using "right to jury trial" as a shorthand for the type of trial characteristic of the common-law tradition, in contrast to criminal trials in civil-law countries. The common-law tradition has long provided a trial in which the judge and jury as a unit act as a safety valve against harsh and overzealous legislative mandates. This model contrasts with the civil-law tradition, in which the trial court is essentially an administrative arm of the legislature. The article explores the differences along a variety of parameters including court structure; socialization of judges; and mechanisms controlling both fact finding and legal decision making, both generally and at sentencing. It concludes that the Court's sentencing decisions have reestablished a basic characteristic of our common-law tradition eliminated by the determinate sentencing schemes: a trial in which the legislature does not have the last word.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 68
Keywords: sentencing, Booker, Blakely, judicial discretion, jury trial, inquisitorial, common law, determinate
JEL Classification: K1, K2, K3, K4
Date posted: August 18, 2007 ; Last revised: September 30, 2008
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