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October 05, 2004 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-05

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 5, 2004


Court may revise prison sentencmg NEWS IN BRIEF
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. cence, judges make factual decisions that _____
Supreme Court appeared poised yester- affect prison time, such as the amount of Five ustices amnear to be concerned that

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day to alter the system used for sentenc-
ing 64,000 federal criminal defendants
a year, but justices clashed over whether
changes would create greater inequity.
Judges, not juries, consider factors
that can add years to defendants' prison
sentences, under the government's 17-
year-old system which has been chal-
lenged as unconstitutional.
Justice Antonin Scalia said lucky
accused criminals go before merciful
judges. The unlucky, he said, can face a
"hanging judge."
"The whole reason for jury trials is
we don't trust judges," he said.
Scalia wrote a stunning 5 to 4 ruling
in June that struck down a state sentenc-
ing system because it gave judges too
much leeway in sentencing. The ruling
caused judges around the country to
delay sentencings or hand down lighter
Justices heard two follow-up appeals
yesterday, on the opening day of their
new term, that will decide the fate of
the federal system set up by Congress to
make sentencing more fair.
While juries consider guilt or inno-

drugs involved in a crime, the number of
victims in a fraud or whether a defendant
committed perjury during trial.
The three-month summer break did
not appear to erase the worries of five
justices that a defendant's Sixth Amend-
ment right to a jury trial is undermined
when a judge, instead of jurors, makes
critical decisions that add time to the
Instead, justices wrangled for nearly
two hours over what parts of the sen-
tencing scheme are acceptable, as well
as the practical impact on jury trials of
their eventual decision.
"Maybe we should just leave it to
Congress to decide," said Justice Sandra
Day O'Connor, who had said in a speech
this summer that justices caused a "No.
.10 earthquake" in courthouses with the
June ruling.
The federal guidelines were being
challenged in two cases involving men
convicted on drug charges. Guidelines,
used in federal courts and by many
states, give judges a range of possible
sentences for each crime, but factors
affect the final sentence.

a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a
jury trial is undermined when a judge makes
critical decisions that add time to his sentence.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said that
without guidelines, judges have "unex-
plained, unarticulated, standardless dis-
"You don't have to throw out 20 years
of sentencing reform," said Rosemary
Scapicchio, a Boston attorney represent-
ing a man in one of the two cases.
She said the only change is that jurors,
not judges, will handle those decisions.
But Paul Clement, the Bush admin-
istration's acting solicitor general, said
that juries' jobs will become too com-
plicated. They will face pages and pages
of questions, instead of straightforward
decisions about someone's innocence.
"We give jury instructions that are
complicated all the time," said Christo-
pher Kelly of Madison, Wis., the attor-
ney for the other man.
After the court's June ruling, fed-
eral prosecutors changed the way they

indict defendants and handle plea bar-
gains. They've also been asking judges
to consider two sentences - one to be
used should the sentencing structure be
found constitutional, and one if it were
Yesterday's appeals involve people
sentenced on drug charges in Wiscon-
sin and Maine. Both will get lighter
sentences if the court rules against the
government, as could other defendants
whose sentences are not final.
"They are seeking a huge sentencing
windfall here," Clement said.
Clement told the justices they don't
have to throw out the entire sentencing
law. A ruling is likely before the end of
the year.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said
at a news conference yesterday that
crime has dropped and tough sentenc-
ing guidelines are one key reason.

Deaths in India up
to 63 after assault

Bombs explode close to U.S. Embassy
Insurgents unleashed a pair of powerful car bombs yesterday near the symbol of
U.S. authority in Iraq - the Green Zone, where the U.S. Embassy and key govern-
ment offices are located - and hotels occupied by hundreds of foreigners. Three
other explosions brought the day's bombing toll to at least 24 dead and more than
100 wounded.
More than three dozen car bombings since the beginning of September illustrate
the militants' seeming ability to strike at will despite recent pledges by the United
States and Iraq to intensify the suppression of insurgents, and the morale-boosting
recapture of Samarra over the weekend.
The day's violence also included assassinations of three Iraqis., and U.S. attacks
against targets in insurgent-held Fallujah. In the latest hostage developments, kid-
nappers freed two Indonesian women, but a separate militant group claimed to
have killed a Turkish man and a longtime Iraqi resident of Italy.
No coalition forces were wounded in either of yesterday's blasts in Baghdad,
said Maj. Phil Smith, a spokesman for the 1st Cavalry Division. But the U.S.
command reported two of its soldiers were killed at a Baghdad traffic checkpoint
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip
Leader: World indifferent to Palestinians
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia yesterday condemned what he called
international indifference to Palestinian suffering in the face of a broad Israeli
offensive into the Gaza Strip aimed at halting rocket attacks on Israel.
At least 67 Palestinians have been killed in the five-day offensive, making it the
deadliest Israeli incursion into Gaza in more than four years of fighting.
Nine Palestinians died yesterday in northern Gaza, including four militants and
a 14-year-old girl who residents said was shot as she baked bread with her mother
in their garden. In southern Gaza, miles away from the offensive, Palestinian resi-
dents said a 4-year-old boy was killed by tank fire next to his house near the town
of Khan Younis. The Israeli military said there were no shootings in the area.
Late yesterday, the army said it killed a Palestinian gunman who tried to infil-
trate the Israeli settlement of Netzer Hazani near Khan Younis. Also, Palestinians
said an Al Aqsa militant was killed in the Jebaliya camp.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, undercover Israeli troops ambushed a car yester-
day, killing two members of an elite Palestinian security force and wounding a third.
Scientists: Volcano could erupt at any time
Mount St. Helens blew off more steam yesterday, shooting a billowing white
plume several hundred feet above the volcano and thrilling hundreds of visitors
who had gathered below the rumbling mountain.
Scientists, who continued to warn that the volcano could blow at any moment,
stopped short of calling the steam burst an actual eruption, saying no volcanic
material apparently was emitted. The steam quickly dissipated and did not threaten
any structures near Mount St. Helens.
Even if a larger eruption comes, officials say there was little or no chance of a
repeat of the mountain's lethal 1980 explosion, or Hawaiian-style lava flows. The
eruption 24 years ago blew 1,300 feet off the top of the peak, killed 57 people and
coated much of the Pacific Northwest with ash.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia
Leaders of Khmer Rouge genocide to be tried
Cambodian lawmakers yesterday approved a U.N.-backed plan to try surviving
Khmer Rouge leaders for genocide more than a quarter-century after the radical
communists were ousted from power.
The vote ended seven years of negotiations and delays over a pact with the Unit-
ed Nations establishing the internationally assisted tribunal and cleared a major
hurdle toward bringing to justice members of the regime blamed for the deaths of
nearly 2 million people.
The 107 lawmakers present in the National Assembly voted unanimously to
ratify the pact.


GAUHATI, India (AP) - Sleeping
villagers heard men outside their huts,
calling them to come out. They stum-
bled into the early morning darkness
yesterday and the intruders began firing
automatic weapons, killing six people
and wounding seven.
The assault brought the death toll to
63 from three days of suspected rebel
attacks in India's northeast, where doz-
ens of ethnic guer-
rilla groups are "W e have
fighting for separate
homelands and bat- the door
tling each other for
supremacy. but it 1s o
The killings s
in the village of save hum
Gelapukhuri - 130
miles north of
Gauhati, the capital Feder
of Assam state - fol-
lowed the weekend
bombings of a train station, utilities, a tea
plantation and a crowded marketplace.
Federal Home Minister Shivraj Patil
said the attacks would not dissuade
the national government from support-
ing peace talks with militant groups in
Assam and neighboring Nagaland state.
"We have not closed the doors for
talks, but it is our duty to save human
lives," Patil told reporters yesterday
after visiting the violence-hit areas.
Nearly 40 separatist groups repre-

senting multiple ethnicities have been
fighting for almost 60 years in India's
mountainous northeast region of seven
states, wedged between Bangladesh,
Bhutan and Myanmar.
In Nagaland, where 28 have been
killed since Saturday, the main separatist
group condemned the attacks and sug-
gested rival outfits were trying to disrupt
a cease-fire and the peace process.
The death toll in

not closed
s for talks,
)ur duty to
.an lives."
- Shivraj Patil
al Home Minister

Assam - where
the state govern-
ment offered to
begin peace talks
with rebels in mid-
October - rose
to 35 yesterday
after the village
attack, which state
police officer P.
Baruah blamed
on the National

Democratic Front of Boroland. Sunday
was the 18th anniversary of the found-
ing of the NDFB, which is demanding
a homeland for Boroland, a region that
straddles Nagaland and Assam.
On Sunday, the commander of the
outlawed United Liberation Front of
Asoni, or ULFA, Paresh Barua report-
edly claimed responsibility for four of
the attacks in Assam state, where the
group has been fighting for a separate
homeland since 1979.

Family members yesterday mourn near a victim killed by suspected rebels at
Gelapukhuri, 130 miles north of Gauhati, Assam, In India. Suspected rebels
woke up sleeping villagers in northeastern India and opened fire on them.






- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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