Professor Randall Hodgkinson a Featured Speaker on "Hard 50" Law

Photograph: Professor Randall HodgkinsonWashburn Law Visiting Assistant Professor Randall Hodgkinson was a featured speaker on the new Kansas "Hard 50" law in late August/early September.

The bill was signed by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback last Friday. As a result, a sentence of life in prison without the chance for parole for 50 years instead of 25 years will be handed down by juries instead of juges in order to comply with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled enhanced sentences must be approved by juries.

However, legislators wrote the bill to apply retroactively to 45 pending "Hard 50" cases, which will likely be challenged by criminal defense attorneys.

Hodgkinson represented the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. On August 26, he testified at the Special Committee on the Judiciary regarding the proposed legislation and followed that up by testifying at the special session of the legislature the week of September 2.

According to an article in The Topeka Capital Journal on September 7:

"One of those defense attorneys will be Randall Hodgkinson, who played a significant role in spurring last week's special session when he successfully appealed a client's Hard 50 after the Supreme Court ruling that such enhanced sentences must be handed down by juries.

"The high court ordered the case of Hodgkinson's client Matthew Astorga, convicted of killing a former roommate in Leavenworth, be sent back to the Kansas Supreme Court for resentencing.

"'The courts are going to have to decide whether the Hard 50 scheme as it is written is unconstitutional, and the courts will eventually decide whether this fix can be applied retroactively, maybe in a case like Astorga,' Hodgkinson said.

Hodgkinson said his case could go before the Kansas Supreme Court as early as October.

You can find the entire article here: 'Hard 50' debate now moves to the courts

Hodgkinson was also quoted on the subject in a Lawrence Journal World article on August 26: Prosecutors, defense attorneys clash over proposed changes to Hard 50 law