Monday, August 05, 2013

Constitutional Challenges to ACCA Mandatory Sentence Rejected

US v. Orona, No. 12-2129 (NM, 7/31/13)(Published) - The 10th rejects the argument that using juvenile adjudications as ACCA predicates violates the Eighth Amendment. Why not? (1) no national consensus against using juvie priors to enhance adult sentences; (2) principles announced in Roper and Graham, banning death penalty and mandatory LWOP for juvies, don’t apply, since defendant was not being sentence for juvie conduct; (3) ACCA sentence is strictly for the instant offense and in no way constitutes a sentence for a prior offense; (4) using juvie adjudications as ACCA predicates serves legitimate penological goals; and (5) using them does not produce grossly disproportionate sentences. The court also rejected their argument that the ACCA residual clause is void for vagueness. Justice Scalia may think so, but neither his colleagues nor any other court agrees with him.