Not Guilty, now off to the slammer for 15 years!

Judges can still punish acquitted defendants – Los Angeles Times
By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court declined Monday to reconsider a legal rule that might surprise most Americans: Judges can punish defendants for certain crimes even after a jury has acquitted them of those charges.

In recent years, the justices have described the right to jury trial as one of the bedrock principles of American law. At the same time, they have been unwilling to say that a jurys not-guilty verdict on some charges means the defendant cannot be punished. Instead, the court has said judges may take into account “acquitted conduct” when they decide on a prison term.

The case of Mark Hurn of Madison, Wis., provides a stark example of the rule.

Hurn was given an additional 15 years in prison for possessing crack cocaine, even though a jury acquitted him of the charge. He was convicted of having powder cocaine in his house, a charge that would warrant between two and three years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.

But he was sentenced to nearly 18 years in prison, as though he had been convicted on both counts.

[Read the whole story at the link above.]

“Innocent until proven guilty”, meet “Sentenced either way”. Is this that “Frontier Justice” that Bush promised us?

-Chris

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