U.S. Second Circuit: Enhanced Sentencing in New York for Persistent Felons Violates U.S. Constitution

Citing a series of U.S. Supreme Court rulings, including Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled on March 1 that a New York state statute that permits stiffer sentences for persistent felony offenders violates defendant’s constitutional rights. In the ruling Judge Ralph K. Winter wrote:

“We hold that the Sixth Amendment Right to a jury trial, applicable to the states as incorporated in the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits the type of judicial fact finding resulting in enhanced sentences under New York’s {Persistent Felony Offender] statute.”

Reporting on the decision in the April 1, 2010 New York Law Journal Joel Stqashenko writes, “The immediate effect of yesterday’s ruling was not clear. Second Circuit rulings on New York law are not binding on the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. The federal panel did not, howeverk that state court rulings upholding the constitutionality of the persistent felony offencer statute have been ‘unreasonable’ in light of seemingly contrary U.S. Supreme Court decisions in similar cases.”

05-4375-pr; 06-3550-pr; 07-1599-pr; 07-3588-pr; 07-3949-pr Besser v. Walsh; Phillips v. Artus; Portalatin v. Graham; Morris v. Artus;
Washington v. Poole
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