Ohio Law

News and Announcements from the Supreme Court of Ohio and Other Governmental Entities Within the Buckeye State.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Ohio's Criminal Sentencing Now Enters Its Catch-22 Phase

The Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals rendered a decision last Friday that, while following recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent, throws a monkey wrench into criminal sentencing scenarios in the state of Ohio.

The Cincinnati Enquirer had this to say:

"Hamilton County Common Pleas judges can impose only a minimum sentence for anyone who has never spent time in prison before, the 1st District Court of Appeals has ruled.

Friday's decision comes on the heels of another appellate court decision in February that says judges cannot impose a maximum prison term.

In both cases, the appeals court said juries in Ohio must play a role in sentencing. The problem? Ohio's court system doesn't allow juries to participate in sentencing."

The problem was created when the U.S. Supreme Court decision that threw out Washington State's sentencing laws. In a 5-4 ruling in Blakely vs. Washington, the court threw out a state law that allowed judges to increase a defendant's sentence without input from a jury. Although the decision supposedly applied only to Washington, a ripple effect has started throughout the country in other states' appellate courts.



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