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On June 24, 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Blakely v. Washington, a case that invalidated the Washington state sentencing guidelines and cast the validity of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines into grave doubt. On June 27, 2004, Professor Frank Bowman sent a memorandum to the United States Sentencing Commission analyzing the probable impact of Blakely on the federal guidelines and proposing a legislative modification of the Guidelines to render them compliant with Blakely. The proposal relies on the rule of McMillan v. Pennsylvania, 477 U.S. 79 (1986), and Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545 (2002), that post-conviction judicial findings of fact may increase minimum sentences. It suggests that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines could be rendered constitutional by eliminating the tops of the current ranges on the sentencing table and substituting the maximum statutory sentence available for the crime or crimes of conviction. This proposal has been the subject of considerable discussion in Congress and elsewhere.



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