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Monday, June 17, 2013

Supreme Court Cites Professor Rory Little

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Rory Little, Professor of Law.

Justice Alito’s dissent today in Alleyne v. United States relies on a 2004 essay by Professor Rory Little.

In Apprendi v. New Jersey (1996), the Supreme Court held that facts increasing a criminal defendant’s maximum possible sentence are elements of the criminal offense that must be proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. But in 2002, the Court decided in Harris v. United States that Apprendi did not apply to facts that would increase a defendant’s mandatory minimum sentence. Today’s decision overrules Harris and holds that the Sixth Amendment requires a jury to find all facts that fix the penalty range of a crime.

In The Lost History of Apprendi and the Blakely Petition for Rehearing, Professor Little noted that Apprendi was based “on an erroneous historical un­derstanding of the Framers’ views in 1790 when they wrote the 6th Amendment’s jury-trial guarantee.” Relying on this piece in his dissent today, Justice Alito suggests that if the Court is of a mind to reconsider existing precedent, it should reconsider Apprendi.

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