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Supreme Court to Decide Whether to Overrule Key Sentencing Precedent of Harris v. U.S.

On Friday, October 5, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Alleyne v. United States (No. 11-9335) to decide whether the Court’s decision in Harris v. United States, holding that the Constitution does not require facts which increase a mandatory minimum sentence to be determined by a jury, should be overruled.

Mr. Alleyne was convicted by a jury of one count of robbery affecting interstate commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1951(a), 2, and one count of using or carrying a firearm during in or in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The government additionally charged Mr. Alleyne with brandishing a firearm during the robbery, and included that charge on the verdict form, but the jury found Mr. Alleyne not guilty of brandishing.  At sentencing, the district court imposed a 46-month sentence on the robbery charge.  Regarding the 924(c) count, the court stated that it was bound by Harris to determine whether Mr. Alleyne should be subjected to the sentencing enhancement for brandishing a firearm, notwithstanding the jury's determination that he was not guilty of that conduct.  The court, over Mr. Alleyne’s objection, imposed a consecutive 84-month sentence for the firearm offense after finding by a preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Alleyne reasonably could have foreseen that his accomplice would brandish a gun during the robbery.  The Fourth Circuit affirmed, citing Harris

For more on the cert grant see this SCOTUSblog post.
 

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