WHAT HAPPENED:  Defendant was convicted of skipping a sentencing hearing, but sentencing was deferred to a later date.  That “later date” was 14 months after his initial guilty plea.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  Good question!!  Although the system tries to get your sentencing together sooner rather than later, the classic “speedy trial” rights that you hear about in the Constitution don’t apply to the time period between conviction and sentencing.  This case asks whether the Court is going to apply Speedy Trial principles to sentencing (probably not), or create a Due Process requirement that requires a time limit between conviction and sentencing (also unlikely).

WHAT IS THE RULING:  This case is not yet decided.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS:  This brings up an interesting issue of what the harm is in this matter.  For one, unlike your right to speedy trial, there is far less prejudice in a delay before sentencing, so the ramifications in either direction seem fairly irrelevant.  This also ignores the fact that most people want as much time before sentencing as possible so they can get their affairs in order before going to prison, so this defendant looking for quicker sentencing could be the legal equivalent of reminding the teacher to give you homework.

ROOT FOR BETTERMAN IF:  You don’t like waiting for things, even long, indeterminate stretches of incarceration.

ROOT FOR MONTANA IF:  Good things come to those who wait.  Except for defendant’s who await sentencing, who are going to prison.


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