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Blog Scan

Supreme Court Petitions to Watch:  SCTOUSBlog's Erin Miller has posted a list of "Petitions to Watch" for the Supreme Court conference tomorrow.  Kent noted in his earlier post that Wong v Belmontes (08-1263) and Bobby v. Van Hook (09-144) have been relisted.  Another crime-related case up for consideration is Manning v. United States (08-1595).  Manning asks the Court to address whether a judgment on Federal Tort Claims Act claims bars a judgment on Bivens claims when the claims were brought together in the same lawsuit. We blogged about Manning last October, when the Seventh Circuit upheld a lower court decision that Manning could not collect his jury award.  Manning was given the death penalty on a murder conviction in Illinois and a life sentence for a kidnapping in Missouri.  When both convictions were overturned he filed suit against the FBI, saying he was framed.

LWOP in California:
  Thanks to posts from How Appealing's Howard Bashman and Sentencing Law and Policy's Doug Berman we have a link to Lawrence Hurley's Daily Journal article U.S. Supreme Court Considers Life Sentences for Juveniles.  The article discusses how the Supreme Court's decisions in Graham and Sullivan could effect juveniles sentenced to life without parole in California.  The article also quotes CJLF's Kent Scheidegger.  CJLF is concerned that Graham and Sullivan could add fodder to defense-side arguments for softer punishments, just as they immediately tried to use Roper outside its capital punishment context.  

Guilt First, Sentencing Second - The Structure of a Verdict:  CrimProf Blog has posted a link to Talia Fisher's SSRN article, Rethinking the Bipolar Structure of the Criminal Verdicts.  In her article, Fisher argues against assumptions that the decision making processes during guilt and sentencing phases can be separated.  According to the paper's abstract, she claims she will demonstrate that our sentencing structure has created "a de facto correlation between certainty of guilt and severity of punishment."  She also seeks to show that when reasonable doubt as to guilt is not an issue, "correlating the size of the punishment with the certainty of guilt is preferable to uniform punishment."  She also believes that "when the certitude level as to the defendant's guilt does not reach the beyond reasonable doubt standard of proof, the imposition of partial punishment...can lead to better outcomes than the existing alternative of full acquittal and no punishment." 

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