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Sentences After State v. Kirby

On July 26, 2017, in State v. Kirby, 899 N.W.2d 485 (Minn. 2017), the Minnesota Supreme Court held that the amelioration doctrine required the resentencing of a person whose conviction was not yet final on May 23, 2016 - the effective date of section 18 of the Drug Sentencing Reform Act (2016 Minn. Laws ch. 160) - in a case in which the Drug Offender Grid, as established under that section, reduced the offender's presumptive sentencing range from that of the sentencing grid in effect at the time of the offense. 
 
A second case decided the same day, State. v. Otto, 899 N.W.2d 501 (Minn. 2017), held that the amelioration doctrine did not apply to the Drug Sentencing Reform Act's controlled substance weight threshold changes.
 
When the sentencing judge determines that the 2016 Drug Offender Grid applies under Kirby to sentence, or resentence, certain first- or second-degree drug offenses, even though the offenses occurred before August 1, 2016, it will be necessary to prepare the sentencing worksheet using the "Override" button. Also, please make a note in the worksheet comments such as "Sentencing judge applied the Drug Offender Grid because of State v. Kirby," "Sentencing judge found that the amelioration doctrine required use of the Drug Offender Grid," or similar language. These comments will allow MSGC staff to code these cases properly pending receipt of formal guidance by the Sentencing Guidelines Commission.
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