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Here we go.

Carissa Byrne Hessick and F. Andrew Hessick, Procedural Rights at Sentencing.  Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 90, 2014 ForthcomingUniversity of Utah College of Law Research Paper, No. 80

In determining which constitutional procedural rights apply at sentencing, courts have distinguished between mandatory and discretionary sentencing systems. For mandatory systems ― systems that limit sentencing factors and specify particular punishments based on particular facts ― defendants enjoy important rights including the right to a jury, the right to proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the right to notice of potential sentencing aggravators, and the right not to be sentence based on ex post facto laws. By contrast, for discretionary systems ― systems that leave the determination of sentencing factors and how much punishment to impose based on particular facts to the judge’s discretion ― defendants do not enjoy these protections. This Article challenges this discrepancy.

The Supreme Court decided Ortiz v. United States, an appeal from CAAF, today.  Bottom line,

This Court has jurisdiction to review the CAAF’s decisions. The judicial character and constitutional pedigree of the court-martial

system enable this Court, in exercising appellate jurisdiction, to review the decisions of the court sitting at its apex.

The U.S. Supreme Court today took up Garza v. Idaho, No. 17-1026, involving the intersection of two recurring themes: lawyer decisions v. client decisions in the conduct of a case and how to apply rules developed for trials to the context of plea-bargained cases, which most cases are now.
In the course of a criminal trial, the lawyer makes most of the decisions, but a few are reserved for the client personally.  This “rule” or assignment of duty applies in courts-martial.  Whether to appeal is a client decision.  In Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470 (2000), the Court dealt with the issue of ineffective assistance claims for a lawyer’s failure to appeal, with or without consulting the client.  If the lawyer is found to have performed deficiently, the “prejudice” question is only whether there is a reasonable probability the client would have appealed, not that he would have prevailed on appeal.

From time to time  I recommend articles, cases, or books to read that may be of interest and help to practitioners.  Here are couple of plays to add to the mix, courtesy of Global Military Justice Reform blog, and I quote.

Anthony Thommasini of The New York Timeshas written this strong and quite positive review of the opera “An American Soldier,” concerning the suicide of U.S. Army Private Danny Chenand the ensuing court-martial. It’s playing in St. Louis.

Can you think of another opera that concerns military justice? Benjamin Britten‘s Billy Budd and the more obscure My Lai come to mind. There is also an Overture to The Andersonville Trial, about the notorious Confederate prison camp.

The director of public prosecutions has pledged to apologise over failures in 47 rape and serious sexual offence cases where vital evidence was withheld from defence lawyers.

From Juliet Bremner with ITV(UK).

On Tuesday, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) revealed that issues with disclosure had been identified in 47 of 3,637 cases in England and Wales that were reviewed between January and mid-February.

“of late, an important shift has occurred in the views of state and lower federal courts, which have increasingly found fault with “new-generation” SORN laws, which in many respects are more expansive and onerous than those condoned by the” Supreme Court in Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (2003) (cleaned up?).

In the federal judicial realm, the Sixth Court of Appeals in Does v. Snyder unanimously invalidated on federal ex post facto grounds Michigan’s law that, like many other amended state laws, not only requires in-person information verification and updating by registrants, but also limits where they can live and work. To the Sixth Circuit, Michigan’s SORN law was “something altogether different from and more troubling than Alaska’s circa 2000 first-generation registry law.”  Tellingly, when the State petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari, and the Court invited the Acting U.S. Solicitor General to weigh in and brief the matter, the latter acknowledged the correctness of the decision in light of what it termed the “distinctive features” of Michigan’s law.  Whether it is accurate to say that the Michigan law varies so substantially as to make it sui generis is certainly subject to dispute,19 but the reluctance of the Court and the Solicitor General (in the Trump administration, no less) to let stand a circuit decision categorically invalidating a state SORN law, using quite denunciatory language,20 was a significant surprise.

From, Logan, Wayne A., Challenging the Punitiveness of ‘New-Generation’ SORN Laws (May 18, 2018). 21 New Criminal Law Review (2018 Forthcoming). Available at SSRN:

(cleaned up)

Yes, back in 1976 I got my Bluebook and throughout the three years of law school, it was a regular reference.  Ah, but it continues to be a daily tool–for motions, briefs, and such.  I fear one day I’ll Bluebook a conversation with a relative or friend in everyday conversation.

One of the common questions is how best to quote, be it an appellate decision or a law journal.  Jack Metzler proposes a solution,  In Cleaning Up Quotations, to be published in 18 J. APP. PRAC. & PROCESS.

The rule of lenity is something you should have in the toolbox regardless of being a trial or appellate counsel.

Intisar A. Rabb, The Appellate Rule of Lenity: Responding to Abbe R. Gluck & Richard A. Posner, Statutory Interpretation on the Bench: A Survey of Forty-Two Judges on the Federal Courts of Appeals.  131 HARV. L. REV. F. 179 (2018).

Lenity’s prominence is unsurprising for a few reasons. First, as an ancient principle directing judges to construe ambiguous criminal statutes narrowly, SeeAntonin Scalia, A Matter of Interpretation 29 (Amy Gutmann ed., 1997) (“The rule of lenity is almost as old as the common law itself, so I suppose that is validated by sheer antiquity.”