Supreme Court to Consider Sentencing Guidelines, ID Issue

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The Supreme Court significantly broadened its continuing examination of the role of judges and juries in criminal sentencing when it agreed on Monday to decide whether judges alone can impose sentences greater than the normal range provided under state guideline laws, reports the New York Times.

The new case, a challenge to the application of sentencing guidelines in Washington State, presents a logical follow-up question to a death-penalty case from Arizona that the court decided last year. In that decision, Ring v. Arizona, the court held that juries, and not judges, must find the “aggravating” factors that make a defendant eligible for death row.

The court also agreed to decide whether people can be required to identify themselves to the police when officers lack probable cause to suspect them of a crime.

The state and lower federal courts have been wrestling for years with this question, says the Times. The justices agreed to use an appeal filed by the Nevada state public defender’s office on behalf of Larry D. Hiibel, who was convicted of resisting an officer by refusing to give his name when a sheriff’s deputy stopped him near his car on the basis of a witness’s report that he had been fighting with a female passenger.


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