A Indiana sentencing law passed in 2005 in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Blakely v. Washington is facing its first test before that state's highest court. To avoid Blakely's requirement that any factor utilized to increase a sentence by found by a jury, the law provides a range of sentences a judge can impose “regardless of the presence or absence of aggravating circumstances or mitigating circumstances" according to a storyby Niki Kelly in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.
The Louisiana Supreme Court has rejected a challage to procedures the state adopted in 2003 to accommodate Atkins v. Virginia. The case involves a man facing the death penalty for a double-murder who claims that he is mentally retarded. Louisiana law requires that the claim be tried by a jury prior to trial. The trial judge ruled such claims should be decided by a judge to minimize the risk that a "death qualified" jury would make a finding and sentence a mentally retarded person to death. The story by Vickie Welborn is from yesterday's Shreveport Times. The Louisiana Supreme Court decision is in the case of Louisiana v. Turner.