Brief filed: 03/14/2011
George v. Louisiana
United States Supreme Court; Case No. 10-1017
Is a defendant’s constitutional right to trial by jury violated when the maximum sentence is increased from six months to twenty years based on a prior adjudication at which a defendant had no right to a jury trial?
The majority of American citizens who interface with the criminal justice system do so through a vast web of petty offenses – such as driving under the influence, possession of marijuana, simple assault – for which the Constitution does not guarantee a jury trial. When such minor non-jury triable misdemeanor convictions are used as elements of subsequent serious felony offenses, the defendant is denied his right to have a jury determine each essential element of this felony offense in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments
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