Lee Davis: Supreme Court Orders Judges To Stay Away From Fact Finding Regarding Mandatory Minimums

Friday, June 21, 2013 - by Lee Davis
Lee Davis
Lee Davis

The Supreme Court issued an important criminal decision this week, Alleyne v. United States, when it said that a jury should have the final say on what triggers mandatory minimum sentences in criminal cases.

The Court voted in a 5-4 decision to overturn the sentencing decision in defendant Allen Alleyne’s case. Alleyne was convicted of robbery and firearm possession in Richmond, Virginia. The issue came down to whether or not Alleyne’s accomplice ever brandished a weapon during the commission of the robbery. If so, then Alleyne would be subject to mandatory minimum sentencing.

The jury believed that Alleyne’s accomplice did not brandish a weapon, but the judge disagreed, saying that he believed he had flashed a gun. This decision meant that Alleyne’s mandatory minimum sentence was raised from five to seven years.

Alleyne’s attorneys appealed the lower court’s decision, claiming that the judge overstepped his bounds. Specifically, Alleyne’s lawyers argued that the brandishing decision should have been left up to the jury. Instead, the judge made his determination using a lower standard of proof.

The Justice Department, for its part, stepped in to argue that the current system of allowing judges to occasionally intervene and apply mandatory minimum sentences has worked well for years and ought not be changed.
The Supreme Court disagreed and said that district court judges cannot issue findings that raise mandatory minimum sentences. That decision should be left exclusively to the jury. As a result, the Court decided to send the case back to the lower court for resentencing.

Some experts say the case is noteworthy not only for its holding, but for the makeup of the majority. In a rare and possibly even historic alliance, the majority was made up of the Court’s four more progressive members with the addition of Justice Clarence Thomas. Court watchers say they could not think of another time where Thomas sided with progressive justices against the conservative wing of the Court.

To read the full opinion, click here.

-----

(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at lee@davis-hoss.com or at 266-0605.)


Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association Announces 2015 Executive Board

The Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) named its 2015 Executive Board, comprised of veterinarians from across the state.  The newly elected officers are: ·        President - Maben Thompson, DVM, Upper Cumberland Veterinary Clinic, Crossville; ·        President Elect - Susan Moon, DVM, ... (click for more)

TVA To Hold Public Meeting In Nashville On Draft Integrated Resource Plan

The Tennessee Valley Authority will host a public meeting in Nashville on Tuesday about the newly released draft of its 2015 Integrated Resource Plan, a guide to TVA’s energy planning decisions for the next 20 years. The meeting, the sixth of seven TVA will offer around the Valley, will be held at the Loew’s Vanderbilt Hotel, Kirkland/Calhoun Room, 2100 West End Ave.  The ... (click for more)

Pedestrian Struck And Dragged An Estimated 4 Blocks Early Friday Morning Was Levi S. Youster, 22

Early Friday morning the Chattanooga Police Department responded to reports of a pedestrian struck near 400 Cherry Street.   Once on scene, officers found Levi S. Youster, 22,  suffering from serious injuries caused by being dragged by the vehicle an estimated four blocks.   He was transported to a local hospital and is expected to live. Investigators ... (click for more)

Flash Flood Warning Issued For Hamilton County; Cancellations And Road Closings Announced

A flash flood warning has been issued for Hamilton County for Thursday afternoon. It was reported t ramp from I-24 West to Cummings Highway was closed, due to flooding. The Chattanooga Fire Department reported  roads were underwater at 3rd and Roanoke. UTC softball’s Thursday doubleheader with non-conference foe UAB at Frost Stadium has been cancelled due to the ... (click for more)

Proud Of Hometown Boy Turned Global Leader, Bob Corker

Time Magazine has it right.  Not only is Chattanooga’s own U.S. Senator Bob Corker one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” but he is probably now the most prominent leader in the history of our city.   At a time of extreme frustration with Washington and Congress in general, Bob continues to rise above the division and rancor to build consensus and solve ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Leathernecks At Tripoli

I don’t want anybody to get excited, because this happened over 200 years ago, but if you ever wondered why we call our Marines “Leathernecks,” the tale of the Barbary Pirates is pretty intriguing. It is a great rainy-day read and proof America’s problems with Muslim terrorists are hardly new. Around 1800 the people who lived on what was called the Barbary Coast of North Africa ... (click for more)