[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Ohio [official website] Monday ruled [opinion, PDF] that hundreds of convicted defendants will need to be resentenced after judges handed down harsher sentences because they were considering evidence not admitted at trial. The ruling found that six parts of the 1996 Ohio sentencing law are unconstitutional because they required judges to review evidence during the sentencing phase, including prior criminal record, which defendants did not admit to during their trials. The unanimous Ohio ruling follows the 2004 US Supreme Court [official website] decision in Blakely v. Washington [syllabus] where the Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment [text] right to a jury trial prohibits judges from lengthening criminal sentences based on facts other than those decided by a jury.
A number of other states have re-evaluated their sentencing guidelines [SL&P blog post; SL&P archive] in light of the Blakely decision, including Oregon. The Supreme Court of Oregon in December said that juries could retroactively resentence as many as 400 criminal defendants [JURIST report] based on aggravating circumstances. Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear [JURIST report] an appeal out of California, where the state high court ruled that its sentencing guidelines, similar to the federal guidelines struck down in Blakely, were constitutional. AP has more. From Cincinnati, Sharon Coolidge and Dan Horn of the Enquirer have local coverage.