Recently in Sentencing Category
Candace Lee Fox pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1984 in California Superior Court and, pursuant to a plea agreement, was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of fifteen years to life. Approximately five years later, Fox successfully petitioned to withdraw her guilty plea after establishing that the sentencing court failed to inform her that she would receive a mandatory term of lifetime parole as a direct consequence of her plea. At her subsequent trial, Fox was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, and the special circumstance that the murder was committed in the course of a burglary. She was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. In this 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas proceeding, Fox now argues that the State originally promised her a term of imprisonment no greater than seven and one-half years in exchange for her plea, and asks for specific performance of that purported agreement.
We refuse Fox's request and affirm the district court, because Fox chose in the state habeas proceedings to seek vacation of her conviction, rather than specific performance of the purported plea agreement. She therefore has no due process right to specific performance of the rescinded agreement.
A justice system reasonably aspires to be consistent in the application of law across cases and to account for the particulars of a case. Our goal was to create a prediction model of criminal sentence lengths that accounts for non-judicial factors such as weather and sports events among the feature set. The feature weights offer a natural metric to evaluate the importance of these features unrelated to crime relative to case-specific factors. Using a Random Forest, we found several expected crime related features appearing within the top 10% most important features. However, we also found defendant characteristics (unrelated to the crime), sport game outcomes, weather, and location features all predictive of sentence length as well, and these features were, surprisingly, more predictive than the defendant's race. Further investigating this predictive ability would be of interest to those studying the criminal justice system.
The case is Rauf v. State. See Justice Vaughn's dissent for the correct answers.
Does Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn have the requisite vertebrae to petition for certiorari? Let's hope so.
The man who killed 84 people in Nice on Bastille Day appeared to be planning the attack since last year and had the help of several people, France's top antiterror prosecutor said Thursday.Accomplices who share the specific intent are just as culpable as the triggerman. Presumably some of them will be caught. What will France do then? Will they do like Norway with Anders Breivik and sentence them to less than four months in prison per life taken?
Investigative magistrates on Thursday were interrogating five people suspected of providing support to 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, said Paris Prosecutor François Molins, who laid out a timeline suggesting the attacker and his suspected accomplices had embraced Islamic extremism as early as the Charlie Hebdo attack in January of last year.
The details disclosed by Mr. Molins threaten to fuel public anger at French President François Hollande and his ministers, who have spent days defending their handling of the terror attack.
The new evidence appears to contradict claims made by top French officials immediately after the rampage that Lahouaiej Bouhlel was radicalized in a matter of weeks, leaving security services little chance of stopping him when he plowed through throngs of revelers on Bastille Day with a 21-ton truck.
Instead, Mr. Molins suggested Lahouaiej Bouhlel may have conducted surveillance on his target a year before he acted and communicated more than a thousand times with suspected accomplices.
Are you really sure you don't want capital punishment, mes amis?
The openness of conservatives to rethinking criminal justice is, to a significant degree, a function of the declining salience of the issue. Voters since the late 1990s simply haven't cared about it as much, as the great crime decline started to register. Voters will still tell you in polls that they think that our criminal laws aren't severe enough, but they also don't care about it as much. And that lack of strong concern creates space for politicians to move without fear of reprisal, and to be more entrepreneurial in their framing of the issue.
Gov. Mike Pence toughened sentences for drug dealers Monday, signing legislation that would mandate repeat offenders serve at least 10 years if their crime involves methamphetamine or heroin.The measure, House Enrolled Act 1235, was included in a bill-signing ceremony the governor held this morning at Hope Academy in Indianapolis, a high school for students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction."...I believe that any strategy to address drug abuse must start with enforcement. We need to make it clear that Indiana will not tolerate the actions of criminals, and I'm pleased to sign into law HEA 1235 to increase penalties on drug dealers."
There's much to mull on in this decision and plenty of commentary will likely be forthcoming, but one aspect deserves consideration. The defendant, Eric Loomis, challenged the measure based on its use of gender in arriving at its conclusion that he posed a high risk of recidivism. As the decision highlights, it is not apparent how gender is calculated by COMPAS because the calculations are considered proprietary and are not disclosed. The parties disagree whether gender is used as a criminogenic factor or merely for statistical norming, yet both agree that it is well known that men commit a disproportionate amount of crime.
It is not easy to land in an American prison. Most convicted felons never reach prison, and those who do are typically repeat offenders guilty of the most serious violent and property crimes. The system sends very few people to prison for simple drug possession. Drug-related convictions do not disproportionately harm the black community. To the contrary, if all drug offenders were released tomorrow, there would be no change in the black share of prisoners.
We do know, however, that putting the most dangerous criminals behind bars reduces victimization for crime-plagued communities. As the incarceration rate for violent felons has increased, crime rates have plunged, saving countless lives and improving public safety--especially in minority neighborhoods. California, which is experimenting with "deincarceration," is already seeing years of progress on public safety reversed in a matter of months.
Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig stated that "Most citizens have no idea that serious criminals are being released from prison early under these new state programs. Many of these individuals have very violent criminal histories and continue to pose a danger to our communities. Our new website link is designed to inform the public and improve the transparency of the state's early release decisions."
A press release about California's early release problem and the new website is here.
Big thumbs up to District Attorney Reisig and the Yolo County D.A.'s Office!
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the chamber and an author of the justice reform bill, said Republicans had offered him "little to no hope" that the legislation would move forward. He called it a "missed opportunity."
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the Republican whip and a lead sponsor of the measure, said he'd hoped the House would move more quickly and provide momentum in the Senate, but "apparently we ran out of time."
With all respect to Sen. Cornyn, the main problem was not time. The problem was that the bill was a bad idea from the start. Backers refused to disclose what the total cost of the (all-but-certain) recidivist crime would be -- that is, how many more Wendell Callahan child murder episodes we should expect. They refused to budge on mens rea reform. They refused to acknowledge the tens of thousands of felons who will already be getting early release courtesy of retroactive sentencing guidelines. They refused to understand when the ground shifted, failing to grasp that months of increases in violent crime and heroin overdose deaths have shaken the enabling complacency of last year.
Who are the heroes in the fight to preserve our safety? The honor roll begins with Sen. Jeff Sessions, whose valor was a beacon from the start. It includes Sens. Tom Cotton -- a brilliant, strong, young voice -- David Perdue, Orrin Hatch, David Vitter, and Ted Cruz. Behind them are incredible women and men whose diligence has been a lesson and a model for me.
Congratulations and gratitude to every one.