This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Adriane Nicole Williams,
Reversed and remanded
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 02072878
John M. Stuart, State Public
Defender, Leslie J. Rosenberg, Assistant State Public Defender,
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Thomas A. Weist, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Wright, Judge.
In a direct appeal challenging the duration of her sentence, appellant argues that the district court violated her Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, as recognized in Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004), when it imposed a sentence that is an upward durational departure from the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. We reverse and remand for resentencing.
Appellant Adriane Williams’s two-year-old godson died from dehydration while in her care. Williams was charged with second-degree felony murder, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.19, subd. 2(1) (2002). Williams waived her right to a jury trial pursuant to Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 1(2). Following a bench trial, the district court acquitted Williams of second-degree murder but sua sponte considered lesser included offenses. Williams was convicted of second-degree manslaughter, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.205(5) (2002). The district court sentenced Williams to 84 months’ imprisonment, an upward durational departure from the 48-month presumptive guidelines sentence, based on the district court’s determination that the offense involved “particular cruelty.” This appeal followed.
In Blakely v. Washington, 542
Citing Blakely, Williams argues that the district
court violated her Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial when it departed
upward from the sentencing guidelines based on a judicial finding of aggravating
factors. A challenge to the
constitutionality of a sentence presents a question of law, which we review de
novo. State v. Wolf, 605 N.W.2d 381, 386 (
While “Blakely expressly permits a defendant to either stipulate to
relevant facts or consent to judicial factfinding regarding sentencing
factors,” State v. Shattuck, 704 N.W.2d 131, 142 (Minn.
2005), waiver of the right to a jury trial for the guilt phase of a criminal
proceeding does not constitute waiver of the right to a jury determination in
the sentencing phase of facts related to an upward departure, State v. Fairbanks, 688 N.W.2d 333, 336
(Minn. App. 2004), review granted (
During the sentencing
hearing, the district court articulated its reasons for imposing an upward
departure based on particular cruelty.
on United States v. Booker, 125 S. Ct.
738 (2005), the state argues that Blakely does not apply to the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines
because they are merely advisory. But the
Minnesota Supreme Court recently rejected this argument, holding that the Minnesota
Sentencing Guidelines are not advisory and that “imposition of the presumptive
sentence is mandatory absent additional findings.” Shattuck,
704 N.W.2d at 141. The state also argues
that Booker requires us to review Blakely errors under a plain-error
analysis. We disagree. We have held that an appellant is “entitled
to the benefit of Blakely even though
he did not assert his Sixth Amendment rights at trial.”
Because the conviction and sentence at issue were not final when Blakely was released, the new rule announced in Blakely applies. When the district court imposed a sentence that was an upward durational departure from the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines based on judicial findings of fact, Williams’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial was violated. We, therefore, reverse the sentence imposed and remand for resentencing.
We are mindful that the Shattuck court did not outline procedures for resentencing under Blakely.
See Shattuck, 704 N.W.2d at 148. And while acknowledging recently enacted
legislation permitting sentencing juries and bifurcated trials, the Shattuck court declined to prescribe a
specific remedy on remand.
Reversed and remanded.