March 1, 2009 By Wallin & Klarich

Under New California Supreme Court Decision, Hundreds Of California State Prison Inmates Have A Shot At A Shorter Sentence.

The recent California Supreme Court’s decision in the matter of In re Gomez, opens the door for sentence modification in California for hundreds of Inmates incarcerated in the State Prison system. The court’s unanimous decision, deals with people convicted of crimes between two United States Supreme Court announcements on how to reconcile states sentencing rules with defendants’ Sixth Amendment right to jury trial.

Sentencing confusion in California courts arose over the way to apply the United States Supreme Court opinions in two cases, Blakely v. Washington decided in 2004, and Cunningham v. California in 2007. The court in Blakely held that judges cannot extend sentences based on facts not found by the jury to be true beyond a reasonable doubt. In Cunningham, the court held that California’s sentencing scheme- which allows judges to adjust sentencing upward if they find aggravating factors accompanying a crime- was unconstitutional because it did not follow Blakely.

The Superior Court Judge in the Gomez trial, cited several aggravating circumstances to explain his decision to impose a longer term at sentencing.

Gomez argued that the rule in Blakely should apply to him. When the case went before the appeals board, the panel rejected the bid for a shorter sentence, relying on a California Supreme Court opinion in People v. Black

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