Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ewing v. California case brief

Ewing v. California case brief summary
538 U.S. 11 (2003)

The California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, affirmed petitioner's sentence under California's three strikes law, and the Supreme Court of California denied review. Certiorari was granted to determine whether the Eighth Amendment prohibited respondent State of California from sentencing a repeat felon to a prison term of 25 years to life under the three strikes law.

Petitioner was convicted of felony grand theft for stealing nearly $ 1,200 worth of merchandise after previously having been convicted of serious felonies including robbery and three residential burglaries. The trial judge decided not to reduce the felony grand theft conviction, a "wobbler" under California law, to a misdemeanor to avoid a three strikes sentence.

  • The Court determined that the Eighth Amendment did not prohibit California from making a judgment that protecting the public safety requires incapacitating criminals who have already been convicted of at least one serious or violent crime. 
  • The Court determined that petitioner's sentence of 25 years to life in prison, imposed for the offense of felony grand theft under the three strikes law, was not grossly disproportionate and therefore did not violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments. 
  • Petitioner's sentence reflected a rational legislative judgment, entitled to deference, that offenders who have committed serious or violent felonies and who continue to commit felonies must be incapacitated.
The United States Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the California Court of Appeal.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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