SCOTUS: Justices Nix Heavy Sentences for Repeat Sex Offenders

In an opinion that aligns Justice Neil Gorsuch with his liberal colleagues, the Supreme Court overturned a law that imposes heightened punishments on sex offenders who are caught with child pornography.

“Only a jury, acting on proof beyond a reasonable doubt, may take a person’s liberty. That promise stands as one of the Constitution’s most vital protections against arbitrary government,” Gorsuch wrote for the plurality Wednesday. “Yet in this case a congressional statute compelled a federal judge to send a man to prison for a minimum of five years without empaneling a jury of his peers or requiring the government to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. As applied here, we do not hesitate to hold that the statute violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.” Full Article

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SCOTUS: Court poised to rule for challenger in dispute over constitutionality of sex-offender law

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Gorsuch has the opinion in Haymond. The 10th Circuit’s ruling is vacated and remanded.

The court holds that a federal law requiring a defendant who is registered as a sex offender to return to prison for at least five years if a federal judge finds that the defendant violated the terms of his supervised release is unconstitutional.

GORSUCH, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which GINSBURG, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined.

Here’s the opinion:

@Chris F will like this:

Gorsuch writes that only “a jury, acting on proof beyond a reasonable doubt, may take a person’s liberty.” But in this case, a federal law required a judge to send Haymond to prison without “empaneling a jury of his peers or requiring the government to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. As applied here, we do not hesitate to hold that the statute violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.”

From Alito’s dissent:

“I do not think that there is a constitutional basis for today’s holding, which is set out in JUSTICE BREYER’s opinion, but it is narrow and has saved our jurisprudence from the consequences of the plurality opinion, which is not based on the original meaning of the Sixth Amendment, is irreconcilable with precedent, and sports rhetoric with potentially revolutionary implications. The plurality opinion appears to have been carefully crafted for the purpose of laying the groundwork for later decisions of much broader scope.”

I’m not sure what he’s getting at yet, but I’m rarely in agreement with Alito on anything, and he is rarely on the side of a criminal in any case that challenges government authority to inflict punishments, so I am thinking that, whatever these decisions of much broader scope portend, it is bound to be good.

Wisconsin did the same thing to me after I was given 3 yrs probation for 2011FTR, I informed my probation officer I would not register, she had me arrested and sent to jail where a ” court commission ” sentenced me to jail. I didn’t get representation at that hearing at the jail. I knew it was unlawful but what can a guy do, they hold all the power. So I sat and sure enough they started coming weekly to offer me a way out. I sat.

Seems to me the ruling can be summarized as the government can’t try a parolee/probationer on a new charge and add more time to the original sentence under the preponderance of evidence standard. It can only revoke a paroled/probated sentence. If it wants to add more time based on new charges, then it must do so with a new trial under the reasonable doubt standard.

To dovetail, a problem in Georgia when parolees/probationers catch new charges, by law the state is allowed to prosecute either as a new charge or a violation, but not both. Sadly, the state seems to ignore that particular provision of law, particularly when the probation period is nearly over. I’ve known several inmates who have caught new charges on probation and were acquitted only to be locked up again as probation violations (usually unauthorized LE contact). I personally wish there were better means to prevent circumstances like that.

Also, is it me or is the headline in this particular story somewhat misleading? I haven’t read the opinion, but nothing in the summary I read in the article indicated SCOTUS was against “heavy sentences for repeat sex offenders”, simply the manner in which they were imposed.

A little irritating that the site doesn’t have a means to comment or contact their editors.

Is SCOTUS aware that this is standard procedure. Anytime probation accuses a person of violating the terms of probation they are locked up without a whisper.

Who’da thunk?

Wow, that’s a lot to digest. 5-3 is not a grand slam by an means but it seems to imply some limits on supervised release. What I wonder is how this applies to the poor saps on LIFETIME supervised release? Does that mean they have been sentanced to a term of imprisonment of their entire life? That’s terrifying. Of they could only be returned for a limited time at most 5 years, but that could easily be more than they were sentanced on the original offense. Idk. I will agree with the dissent in that this could be the ground work of something more.

WOW, this is a change, of course Kavanaugh newest will turn his druken nose at this and label us all with his daughter’s protections (FALSE), NO…Denied. Won’t even read really into it.
Suprise for Judge Gorsich (R) to even really see rights here folks. GOOD SHOCK!
Will it continue? Only time will tell. TELL THE TRUTH MEN, NOT what’s on Your Personal Agenda PLATE! Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad something that affects us reached SCOTUS, but I worry about those Females that might of happened to them as a child and hold grudge as sitting on the bench, very common in large Hispanic Familia for repeat occurences for the children

@. Kavenaugh vote,
Given the highly public nature of the hearing & his response; I surmised he’d do everything appear as if he has no tolerance for the kind of attack he was accused of. IMHO not even close to a sexual rape occurred given her testimony. But then his vote hinged on another issue completely.The splits in plurality opinions directly ,implicates the extremist LEADERSHIP in each party.

Can 5-4 consistent voting on SCOTUS lead to a union cohesion by sound lawmaking?? IMHO, NO! It seems to me program regimes that are sound ( efficacy, efficient) would see more unambiguous unanimous votes (9-0, 8-1, 7-2). Tailoring of regulations is essential.