Friday, June 29, 2007

People v. Nguyen (Cal. Ct. App. - June 29, 2007)

Justice McAdams writes the majority opinion in this case. Justice Mihara dissents.

The majority opinion contains the following opening paragraph:

"The sole issue in this appeal is whether “the role of the jury [is] diminished and eroded in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution” by the use of juvenile adjudications to increase the maximum punishment for an offense, in light of the United States Supreme Court’s opinions in Apprendi v. New Jersey (2000) 530 U.S. 466 (Apprendi) and Blakely v. Washington (2004) 542 U.S. 296
(Blakely). In concluding that it is, we respectfully disagree with our colleagues on this court and others, and join the small but growing number of courts across the county that have likewise concluded that Apprendi and its progeny compel us to recognize that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial is an integral part of the process that is due before a prior conviction may be used to increase the maximum sentence for a criminal offense."

I've got no problem with such a position. Though I think a contrary claim is reasonable as well.

The only thing I want to add is that the opening paragraph might just as well conclude with the following:

"We recognize that our opinion ain't gonna last that long. The California Supreme Court will surely either depublish it or -- more likely -- grant review. But we think we've made the right call here. So, for whatever it's worth, and for however briefly it'll remain published, here's our view . . . ."

So read the (recently amended) opinion while you can.