Supreme Court Declines to Clarify Sentencing Ruling


The Supreme Court declined on Monday to consider whether hundreds of criminals who were sentenced prior to a landmark ruling on federal sentencing guidelines should receive reduced prison time. Without comment, justices let stand a lower court ruling against Vladimir Rodriguez, a Florida man who challenged a nine-year drug sentence he received under mandatory guidelines that the Supreme Court subsequently threw out as unconstitutional.

The high court ruled Jan. 12 that the mandatory guidelines violated a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. That’s because the guidelines required judges to make factual decisions that affect prison time, such as the amount of drugs involved in a crime or amount of money involved in fraud. At issue was whether those criminal cases should presumptively be reviewed as wrong, or whether criminals must first provide strong evidence that the trial court would have imposed a lighter sentence.


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