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Oregon v. Ice Trumps Defendant's Habeas Claim:  Doug Berman posts over on Sentencing Law and Policy that the Sixth Circuit ruled in the habeas case, Evans v. Hudson, No. 08-3717 (6th Cir. Aug. 3, 2009), that the Supreme Court's decision in Oregon v. Ice "undercuts" a Blakely claim that was valid at the time of direct appeal.  Glen Evans was convicted on one count aggravated murder, two counts kidnapping, with fire arm specifications on all counts.  The judge sentenced Evans to serve consecutive sentences.  On appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, Evans argued the trial judge had erred by imposing consecutive sentences without making statutorily required findings of proportionality.  The Ohio court dismissed the appeal.  The district court then granted habeas relief, because the "statute that the sentencing judge relied upon in imposing Evans's sentence... violated Blakely because...'an Ohio defendant could not be sentenced to consecutive sentences without additional judicial fact-findings.'"  The state appealed, and the Sixth Circuit determined that after Oregon v. Ice, Evans' claim resembled a question addressed by the Supreme Court in Lockhart v. Fretwell.  Fretwell directed a court not to "consider the effect of an objection it knows to be wholly meritless under current governing law, even if the objection might have been considered meritorious at the time of its omission."  Since Ice had determined "that the Sixth Amendment does not exclude" the practice of requiring a judge to find certain facts before she can sentence a defendant to consecutive terms, Evans' Blakely argument was meritless. CJLF's brief in Ice is available here

Aggravation of Victim Suffering:  Over the weekend, Doug Berman posted some snippets from an article by John Christofferson that reported that death penalty cases were harder on survivors than life sentences.  Berman's Sentencing Law and Policy post wondered whether this meant that the death penalty "aggravate[d]" victim suffering.  While it may be true that "[c]ommissions in New Jersey and Maryland in recent years found that death-penalty cases are more harmful to the families of victims than cases that end with life sentences[,]" Berman's question prompted one blogger to comment that victim suffering "is the the new anti death penalty mantra."  As several pointed out, "[t]he death penalty is a just punishment for the taking of an innocent life" and many victims, including one quoted in Christofferson's article, are willing to suffer to obtain justice.

Retired Justice Moves Out of Farmhouse to Accommodate His Library:  At SCOTUSblog, Tony Mauro reports that retired Justice Souter will be moving out of his family homestead in Weare, New Hampshire to a newer home in nearby Hopkinton.  The former Justice apparently purchased the home because it would better hold his book collection.  This article, in the Union Leader, reports that Souter told a neighbor that he decided to move when he learned the farmhouse was not structurally sound enough to hold Souter's thousands of books.  Mauro reports that the farmhouse became famous when Souter was first nominated, because it "seemed to symbolize Souter's almost hermit-like private persona for the media hordes that descended on Weare."  Now that the media is focused on Judge Sotomayor, the retired Justice appears to be embracing a more modern home.

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