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From Jones to Jones: Fifteen Years of Incoherence in the Constitutional Law of Sentencing Factfinding

30 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2015  

Benjamin J. Priester

Florida Coastal School of Law

Date Written: August 20, 2015

Abstract

With tens of thousands of persons sentenced every year in the United States, the contemporary American criminal justice system places undeniable importance upon the constitutional constraints governing the scope of the permissible and impermissible exercises of factfinding authority by sentencing judges in the course of determining the specific punishment to be imposed upon an individual convicted of a criminal offense. Yet for the past fifteen years the United States Supreme Court has failed to provide doctrinal stability and consistency to this crucial area of constitutional law. Even the most recent decisions, such as Alleyne v. United States (2013) regarding mandatory minimum sentencing provisions, have generated only more unpredictability in the doctrine and more disagreements among the justices’ viewpoints. The path to an enduring doctrinal solution is not readily evident, and the Court’s unwillingness to reach consensus leaves the constitutional law of sentencing factfinding trapped in an ongoing cycle of unpredictability and doctrinal incoherence.

Keywords: criminal law, criminal procedure, constitutional law, criminal sentencing, Apprendi, Blakely, Booker, Alleyne

Suggested Citation

Priester, Benjamin J., From Jones to Jones: Fifteen Years of Incoherence in the Constitutional Law of Sentencing Factfinding (August 20, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2648397 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2648397

Benjamin J. Priester (Contact Author)

Florida Coastal School of Law ( email )

8787 Baypine Rd.
Jacksonville, FL 32256
United States

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