Implications for Trump? Supreme Court makes landmark ruling on jury trials that could change EVERYTHING

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WASHINGTON, DC - In a landmark decision that could have profound repercussions for the American judicial system, the United States Supreme Court issued a 6-3 ruling penned by Justice Neil Gorsuch that juries rather than judges must decide the facts of a case, such as determining if a person is a habitual offender or other sentencing enhancements.

As reported by Bloomberg Law, the case began with defendant Paul Erlinger pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He contested the ruling on the grounds that the Fifth and Sixth Amendments ensure that he had the right for jurors to decide if a previous crime occurred in one or many episodes.

The distinction is relevant due to the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), which mandates a 15-year minimum sentence based on previous crimes. Erlinger was sentenced thusly based on an earlier conviction for burglary. 

The US District Court threw out a request from Erlinger to have the jury decide whether each of his crimes were committed in three separate episodes, therefore qualifying for enhanced sentencing under the ACCA. Reportedly, the court referred to the 15-year-sentence as “unfortunate” and “excessive.”

However, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reverse the opinion, despite the District Court's admission.
The Supreme Court found that for a court to determine whether Erlinger's or another defendant's past offenses were committed on separate occasions for ACCA, the Fifth and Sixth Amendments require a unanimous jury to reach that verdict beyond a reasonable doubt.

Justice Gorsuch wrote the opinion clarifying prior rulings of the court regarding the Sixth Amendment right to jury trial. Writing for the majority of the court in Erlinger v. United States, Gorsuch said, "The jury trial may have 'never been efficient'...It may require assembling a group of the defendant’s peers to resolve unanimously even seemingly straightforward factual questions under a daunting reasonable doubt standard."

Further, he said, "The right to a jury trial ‘has always been’ an important part of what keeps this Nation ‘free.'" He added that the Fifth and Sixth Amendments "do not tolerate the denial of that right in this case."

Chief Justice Roberts concurred with the decision, but added what seems to be a rebuke to the Seventh Circuit that it accepted a contention from prosecutors that the error of the US District Court was "harmless."

Finally, in a concurrence that some scholars have suggested could shake the very foundations of the legal proceedings against the January 6th Capitol riot defendants, Justice Clarence Thomas concurred, writing, "The fact that a defendant’s prior qualifying offenses occurred on 'occasions different from one another' results in an increased punishment under the Armed Career Criminal Act. 18 U. S. C. §924(e)(1). The Sixth Amendment therefore gives criminal defendants the right to have a jury find that fact. See Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U. S. 466, 501 (2000) (THOMAS, J., concurring) ('[A] "crime" includes every fact that is by law a basis for imposing or increasing punishment' (emphasis added))."
Justices Bret Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, and Ketanji Brown Jackson dissented from the ruling contending that under the law, judges have the authority to determine whether a defendant has three or more prior convictions.
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If THIS is their decision, I think every elite in WDC will be going to Prison very soon. Everyone KNOWS the BIDEN'S certainly will be... and HALF of congress.


I have ALWAYS felt that the judges were assuming a duty that is explicitly assigned to the jury! The judge’s duty is to keep a “handle” on proceedings, NOT (juror) outcomes-influencing! KUDOS to the 6!


I have ALWAYS felt that the judges were assuming a duty that is explicitly assigned to the jury! The judge’s duty is to keep a “handle” on proceedings, NOT (juror) outcomes-influencing! KUDOS to the 6!

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