Utah Judges Interpret Court Ruling Differently

Utah Judges Interpret Court Ruling Differently

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(Washington-AP) -- In the three weeks since a Supreme Court ruling cast a shadow over federal sentencing rules, four federal trial judges have interpreted the high court ruling in four different ways.

And that's just in Utah.

One of them -- U-S District Judge Paul Cassell -- told Congress yesterday that the criminal docket is now operating under tremendous uncertainty.

The Supreme Court's ruling last month said that juries, not judges, must consider any factor that could lengthen a defendant's sentence beyond the maximum set in state sentencing guidelines.

Cassell contends that ruling makes federal sentencing guidelines unconstitutional.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah is considering a temporary fix that would allow judges to operate much as they do now as they await final word from the Supreme Court.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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