July 21, 2004

Indiana Law - Impact of Blakely in Indiana State Courts

This morning I wrote here about the National Center for State Courts' new report: "Blakely v. Washington: Implications for State Courts." I quoted its statement: "Indiana is apparently not affected by Blakely, said a spokesperson for the state’s attorney general." I continued:

This [position] corresponds to the only other statement about the potential impact of Blakely on Indiana state courts I've seen*, a brief report in the Gary Post Tribune reported here in the Indiana Law Blog on June 26, 2004.
However, the Tribune story was published the same week as the Blakely decision, before there had been time to really access its ramifications.

A reader advised me this afternoon that the bi-weekly print publication, Indiana Lawyer (paid subscription required) has a front-page story in the current, July 14-27 issue, titled "Criminal sentences under fire: U.S. Supreme Court ruling threatens sentencing statutes across nation." With respect to cases in state courts in Indiana, the article portrays a split of opinion about the applicability of Blakely, with prosecutors and the Attorney General's office, as one might expect, lining up on one side, and defense attorneys on the other.

Near the end of the article, Indianapolis attorney Michael R. Limrick is quoted:

I'm concerned by those who still want to stick by the notion that Indiana's current system is fine because it's a range," he said. "It's an easy trap to fall into, looking at the statutes that say years can be added to or subtracted from a presumptive sentence and calling that a sentencing range. But the statutes are clear that a judge cannot deviate upward from a presumptive sentence until that judge has found additional facts, a practice that is clearly impermissible under Apprendi/Blakely."
Review the statutes yourself; here is IC 35-50-2, Death Sentence and Sentences for Felonies and Habitual Offenders.
*The Evansville Courier&Press story I reported on at the beginning of this week dealt only with federal courts in Indiana.

Posted by Marcia Oddi at July 21, 2004 07:39 PM