Foreword: Beyond Blakely and Booker: Pondering Modern Sentencing Process

37 Pages Posted: 9 May 2005

See all articles by Douglas A. Berman

Douglas A. Berman

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law


The Supreme Court's landmark decision in Blakely v. Washington and its federal follow-up United States v. Booker are formally about the meaning and reach of the Sixth Amendment's right to a jury trial. But these decisions implicate and reflect, both expressly and implicitly, a much broader array of constitutional provisions and principles, in particular, the Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and the notice provision of the Sixth Amendment. And the future structure and operation of modern sentencing systems may greatly depend on how courts and others approach the due process provisions and principles which lurk in the unexplored shadows of the Supreme Court's decisions in Blakely and Booker.

In this foreword, I explain why an important enduring question which emerges from the Supreme Court's recent sentencing jurisprudence concerns whether, when and how procedural issues other than the Sixth Amendment's jury trial right will be addressed after Blakely and Booker. In Part I, I provide a brief account of modern sentencing reform and its neglect of an array of procedural issues. Part II focuses upon the Supreme Court's past and present jurisprudential struggles with procedural rights at sentencing. Part III sketches considerations for courts and other key sentencing actors and institutions as they explore what process is due in modern sentencing systems.

Part III concludes by suggesting that the pitched battle over the rights and results in Blakely and Booker reflect competing visions of what procedural concepts and norms will take center-stage as the Supreme Court considers the applicable constitutional rules for modern sentencing decision-making. Justice Stevens leads a faction of the Court concerned about safeguarding procedural rights for defendants at sentencing, while Justice Breyer leads a faction of the Court concerned about ensuring that applicable procedures at sentencing serve the goal of sentencing uniformity. But, with Justice Ginsburg having allied herself with both of these competing factions in Booker, the schizophrenic Booker ruling further obscures which principles should guide lower courts in considering the broad range of procedural issues beyond jury trial rights that follow in the wake of Blakely and Booker.

Keywords: Apprendi, Booker, Fanfan, Blakely, sentence, due process

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Berman, Douglas A., Foreword: Beyond Blakely and Booker: Pondering Modern Sentencing Process. Available at SSRN:

Douglas A. Berman (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Street
Columbus, OH 43210
United States
614-688-8690 (Phone)

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