Friday, January 15, 2016

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas appeared poised to side with Siegelman in SCOTUS case that could have protected the right to trial by jury

From:  Legal Schnauzer



Don Siegelman (From Montgomery Advertiser)
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision yesterday not to hear the latest appeal in the Don Siegelman case, of course, is a blow to the former Alabama governor. But it's also a blow to a supposedly bedrock concept of our democracy--the right to a jury trial. That means yesterday's decision is a blow to all Americans, even those who've never heard of Don Siegelman and have no idea what his case is about.

Here is the central issue in the Siegelman appeal: May a court consider acquitted conduct to increase a sentence within the statutory range of the offense for which the defendant was convicted? That is precisely what U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller--who since has resigned from the bench in the wake of a wife-beating scandal--did in the Siegelman case. And it's a big reason Siegelman is not scheduled for release from federal prison until August 8, 2017.

To a considerable extent, he is being held now based on charges of which a jury acquitted him. A number of constitutional and legal groups have filed briefs in the case, arguing that such an outcome violates a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial and violates the Right to Popular Sovereignty inherent in the U.S. Constitution.  MORE