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Be Careful What You Ask For

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Getting regular folks involved in sentencing, rather than leaving the sentence entirely to the judge, is better for defendants, right?  One might think so, given the defense bar's push to expand Apprendi as far and wide as they can.

But then again maybe not.  Kyodo News Service reports on a study from Japan regarding their innovation of "lay judges":

Lay judges tend to impose tougher sentences than professional judges on defendants who have committed sex crimes or inflicted injuries resulting in death, a comparative study of court rulings before and after the 2009 introduction of citizen judge panels showed Saturday.

Regardless of the nature of the crime, lay judges also handed down more suspended sentences than professional judges, while fewer appeals have been filed against their decisions, the research shows.
I have also been told anecdotally that prosecutors in Arizona found it easier to get death sentences after the post-Ring legislation made the jury rather than the judge the primary decider of sentence.

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I think that if we could get states to abolish the "one dissenting juror" equals life that Apprendi could be a benefit. Apprendi, it still seems to me, was rightly decided.

I don't have a problem with Apprendi itself. It is the expansion of it in Ring, Blakely, and Booker that is the problem.

Ring was really really annoying. Certainly, in a vacuum, it's right, but given the detailed code of procedure under the Eighth Amendment, the states should have been given leeway. Now you have the odd juxtaposition of a strict reading of the jury trial right, and an expansive reading of the Eighth Amendment. Interesting result, to say the least.

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