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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oregon Supreme Court Assaults Measure 11

Posted by Sean Breslin on Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 3:56 PM

The Oregon Supreme Court decided today that Measure 11's mandatory minimum sentences were unconstitutional in two specific cases.

In cases against Veronica Rodriguez and Darryl Anthony Buck, the court upheld their convictions but deemed their mandatory 75-month sentences for first degree sexual assault to be unconstitutional. In Rodriguez's case, she was convicted of sexual assault for standing behind a 13-year-old boy so that her breasts rested on the back of his head in a room with 30 to 50 other people.

The court found that sentencing a person with no prior convictions to 75 months in prison for sexual assault to be "so disproportionate as to shock the moral sense of all reasonable persons as to what a right and proper sentence should be."

But while the decision doesn't strike the law from the books, it does raise interesting questions for future cases.

"I think it clearly raises the question of how many other people are slipping through the cracks of Measure 11,” says David Rogers, executive director of Partnership for Safety and Justice.

For Rogers, the decision confirms what polls done by PSJ show: that Measure 11 is unreasonably harsh and should be scaled back and eventually overturned.

“It’s costing the state too much, it’s problematic, it’s not good public safety policy,” Rogers says.

But he's not looking for another ballot measure, which he says are often used to confuse voters. Instead, he thinks the legislature should take up Measure 11's faults.

“That’s the job of legislators is to create public policy.”

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