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Massachusetts court OKs victims’ sentencing recommendations

January 18, 2018

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts’ highest court has upheld the practice of allowing crime victims to recommend sentences for defendants.

The Supreme Judicial Court rejected a challenge to the practice on Thursday. The U.S. Supreme Court has prohibited victims from making sentencing recommendations in death penalty cases, but Massachusetts’ high court says that doesn’t extend to non-capital cases.

Attorney Max Bauer had argued that victims should be free to make statements in court about the impact of crimes, but that allowing them to propose a sentence goes too far.

Bauer says someone shouldn’t get a harsh punishment just because the victim is “particularly articulate” or able to tug on the judge’s heartstrings.

The high court said they expect judges to make sentencing decisions “devoid of emotion, prejudice and the relative status” of a victim.

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