Monday, December 10, 2007

First Use of New Extended Sentencing Law

As reported by The Advertiser, Hawaii's new extended sentencing law, passed by the legislature in Special Session #2 about 6 weeks ago, will be used for the first time today. Pursuant to Act 1, it will be the first time that a jury, not a judge, will determine whether a convicted prisoner will get a harsher sentence due to the severity of the crime. In the case to be decided, John E. Lorenzo, Jr. was convicted last month of murdering an off-duty police officer, a second degree murder offense. Today, the same jury that convicted him will return to determine whether Lorenzo should get the normal sentence of life with the possibility of parole, or to utilize the extending sentencing powers and set his sentence at life without the possibility of parole.

KITV filed this story on what happened in court today. It sounds like a two-day proceeding. If the jury decides on a life without parole sentence, the judge still has the authority to overturn the decision. Reportedly, around 100 cases, or "dozens and dozens" of cases according to criminal defense attorney Earle Partington, may be affected by the new law and will be watching the outcome of the Lorenzo sentencing closely.

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