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Cunningham: The legislative fix for Cunningham v. California comes up for a vote in the Cal. Senate Tuesday, as reported here in a story by AP. The legislation allows use of judicial discretion in choosing between the upper, middle, and lower terms without tying that choice to fact-finding. The article incorrectly states, "A judge also would no longer be bound to increase a sentence," but judges were not bound under prior law. The lawmakers were also asked to deal with the roughly estimated 10,000 inmates who will neeed to be re-sentenced in accordance with the new law, but Sen. Romero said that was the job of the judiciary.

The Death Penalty
was the sentence that 53-year-old Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. received after being convicted of the heinous murder of 22-year-old Dru Sjodin, a North Dakota University student. Just six months after being released from prison for crimes including rape as well as attempted kidnapping, Rodriguez kidnapped, raped, and murdered Sjodin. The story is reported for AP by Dave Kolpack. His conviction led to harsher sentences for sex offenders including life without the possibility of parole for extreme sex offenses.

Double Jeopardy is the subject in a military court today. Lt Ehren Watada refused to be deployed to Iraq with the rest of his infantry in June and as a result was later charged with missing a troop movement and 2 counts of conduct unbecoming of an officer but granted a mistrial declared by an Army Judge. The defense insists that if Watada is retried then double jeopardy will undoubtedly attach. However it is the Army's position that a retrial would not constitute grounds for double jeopardy. More on this story can be found here in the SF Chronicle by Bob Egelko.

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The North Dakota death penalty sentence occurred in federal court. North Dakota, of course, has no capital punishment law. Not surprisingly, therefore, this is the first death sentence in North Dakota in at least a century. It is notable that a local jury in an abolitionist state was willing to impose the death penalty.

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