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Published: Monday, 2/27/2006

Ohio must resentence hundreds under state Supreme Court ruling

ASSOCIATED PRESS

COLUMBUS Hundreds of defendants will have to be resentenced because judges considered evidence that wasn t presented at trial, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled today.

The unanimous ruling found parts of Ohio s sentencing law unconstitutional.

The law required judges to consider evidence that a defendant had not admitted to at trial, such as criminal record, which often resulted in longer sentences.

Most of the cases affected by the ruling are repeat offenders or serious drug offenders, the court said.

The ruling follows a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that threw out similar sentencing guidelines in Washington state on the basis they violated the U.S. Constitution s guarantees of a jury trial.

Although new sentencing hearings will impose significant time and resource demands on the trial courts ... we must follow the dictates of the United States Supreme Court, Ohio Justice Judith Lanzinger wrote in today s ruling.

The ruling singles out six sentencing guidelines included in the 1996 law, in which the Legislature required strict prison terms and allowed judges little leeway. The remainder of the law is not affected, the court said.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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