United States v. Booker (04-104) and United States v. Fanfan (04-105)

August 3, 2004 Supreme Court Update
Greetings Court fans!
I know what you're thinking: Why am I getting a "Supreme Court update" over the summer? Aren't the Justices all off on vacation? Yes, but they're still making news.
Remember Blakely v. Washington? In that case, decided at the end of the Term, the Court extended its Apprendi/Sixth Amendment case law to hold that sentencing decisions must be based solely on the facts reflected in a jury's verdict or in a defendant's admission. This holding sent shock waves through the federal courts because the federal Sentencing Guidelines rely heavily on judge-found facts to calculate a defendant's sentence. As federal courts began sorting out the implications of Blakely, the SG asked the Court to resolve the issue on an expedited basis, and on Monday, the Court announced that it will do so. (Although the SG asked the Court to hear the case this summer, the Court adopted the SG's alternative schedule, with argument scheduled for the first Monday in October. They're not going to completely ruin their summer vacation!)
In two cases, United States v. Booker (04-104) and United States v. Fanfan (04-105), the Court will consider two questions:
1. Whether the Sixth Amendment is violated by the imposition of an enhanced sentence under the United States Sentencing Guidelines based on the sentencing judge's determination of a fact (other than a prior conviction) that was not found by the jury or admitted by the defendant?
2. If the answer to the first question is "yes," the following question is presented: whether, in a case in which the Guidelines would require the court to find a sentence-enhancing fact, the Sentencing Guidelines as a whole would be inapplicable, as a matter of severability analysis, such that the sentencing court must exercise its discretion to sentence the defendant within the maximum and minimum set by statute for the offense of conviction.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled summer! Thanks for reading!

From the Appellate Practice Group at Wiggin and Dana.
For more information, contact Sandy Glover, Aaron Bayer, or Jeff Babbin
at 203-498-4400, or visit our website at www.wiggin.com.