Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Judges vs. juries, and the Supreme Court

Judges may decide whether a punishment fits the criminal as well as the crime. But whether a crime was committed is for the jury, not the judge, to determine.

Legal scholars long have struggled to determine the proper allocation of authority between judges and juries. But you don't have to be an expert to recognize that Allen Ryan Alleyne was treated unjustly by a federal court in Virginia.

The jury that convicted Alleyne for his role in the armed robbery of a convenience store specifically looked at the question of whether a gun was "brandished" by Alleyne's accomplice, a factor that would trigger a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years for any participant in the crime. The jury concluded that it wasn't (although it did agree that a gun had been "used or carried"). But when the judge sentenced Alleyne, he concluded that a gun had been brandished and sentenced him to the mandatory minimum.

Read on...

This is an editorial from the LA Times. Tom


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