Blakely v. Washington Case Brief

Facts of the Case

“Petitioner pled guilty to kidnapping his estranged wife. Pursuant to state law, the trial court imposed an “exceptional” sentence of 90 months after making a judicial determination that he acted with deliberate cruelty. Petitioner appealed, arguing the sentencing procedure violated his Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury. The State Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Washington Supreme Court denied discretionary review. Certiorari was granted.”


During an application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, does a vocational expert’s testimony count as “substantial evidence” of “other work” if the expert does not provide the underlying data on which that testimony is premised?


“In a 5-4 decision delivered by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court held that an exceptional sentence increase based on the judge’s determination that Blakely had acted with “deliberate cruelty” violated Blakely’s Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury. Citing its decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, the Court ruled that facts increasing the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury and and proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Dissents by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and Justice Stephen Breyer argued the ruling will diminish legislatures’ ability to set uniform sentencing guidelines.”

Case Information

Citation: 542 US 296 (2004)
Granted: Oct 20, 2003
Argued: Mar 23, 2004
Decided: Jun 24, 2004
Case Brief: 2004