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Alleyne v. United States : Facts that Increase Mandatory Minimum Sentences Must Be Submitted to Jury

Opinion by: Justice Thomas
The United States Supreme Court decided in Alleyne v. United States (June 2013) that any facts that would increase the mandatory minimum sentence of a crime must be submitted to the jury, overruling Harris v. United States (2002).
In Alleyne, Petitioner was charged, among other offenses, with using or carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, which carries a minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment. On the verdict, the jury did not indicate a finding that the firearm was “brandished,” which carries a minimum sentence of 7 years. However, the presentence report recommended a 7-year sentence based on the court’s assertion that it had found evidence supporting a finding of brandishing. The District Court relied on Harris, which held that judicial fact finding that increases the mandatory minimum sentence for a crime is permissible under the Sixth Amendment because facts can be a “sentencing factor” rather than an “element of the crime.”
In Appre…

CASE REGARDING GANG VALIDATION IN PRISON

The California Court of Appeal of the Fifth Circuit held in In re Cabrera recently that possession of photocopies of drawings signed by prison gang members or associates is not sufficient to establish association with those artists.
Under the Due Process Clause, administrative findings underlying a gang validation resulting in placement in a security housing unit (SHU) must be supported by “some evidence.” This “some evidence” test requires the court to determine whether there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion reached by the prison officials. The California Supreme Court asserts that there must be a “rational nexus between the evidence presented and the finding of fact made,” meaning that a decision to place an inmate in a SHU cannot be based on merely a hunch or intuition.
Furthermore, validation of an inmate as an associate of a prison gang requires at least one source item to be a direct link to a current or former member or associate. Although there…