Category: Uncategorized

SJC Dookhan Decision

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The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled in Commonwealth v. Rakim Scott,  SJC-11465, that where state drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan signed the certificate of drug analysis as either the primary or secondary chemist in the defendant’s case, the defendant is entitled to a conclusive presumption that Dookhan’s misconduct occurred in […]

Hinton Lab Inspector General Report

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The Inspector General has issued its report on the investigation of the William A. Hinton State Laboratory, site of the drug lab scandal involving chemist Annie Dookhan.   A summary of the report’s significant findings will follow.

Federal Misdemeanors

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For a very comprehensive list of federal misdemeanors for use in charge bargaining, click here.  The list comes courtesy of Arkansas Federal Public Defender Office paralegal Betty Farr.

Supreme Court reverses 841(b)(1)(C) “death resulting” enhancement

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In Burrage v. United States, No. 12-7515, the Supreme Court ruled that a defendant charged with drug distribution cannot be liable for the penalty enhancement for a victim’s death or serious injury under 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(C) unless the use of the drug distributed is a “but for” cause of the death or injury, […]

Pending Minimum Mandatory Legislation

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There are two bills to ameliorate  minimum mandatory sentences pending in Congress. The Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 would allow a judge, under a new section (g)  to 18 U.S.C. 3553,  to depart below any minimum mandatory sentence “if the court finds it necessary to do so in order to avoid violating the requirements of […]

Proposal to Lower Drug Quantity Table

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The United States Sentencing Commission announced in a news release that it has proposed an amendment to the guidelines that would lower the drug quantity table by 2 levels.  The Commission will hold a hearing on the proposal in March.  The proposal itself will appear in the Federal Register next week. Counsel should consider using […]

Supreme Court on the Fifth Amendment and Mental Health Evaluations

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In an opinion it characterized as just an application of Buchanan v. Kentucky, 483 U.S. 402 (1987), the Supreme Court in Kansas v. Cheever, No. 12-609, ruled that there is no Fifth Amendment violation in admitting evidence from a court-ordered psychological evaluation of a defendant for the limited purpose of rebutting the defendant’s […]

First Circuit Applies Alleyne to Drug Quantity

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The First Circuit ruled in US v. Harakaly  that the district court erred under Alleyne v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013) in making a factual finding of drug quantity necessary to impose a mandatory minimum where the quantity was not alleged in the indictment or admitted at the time of guilty plea.  The […]

Iowa District Court on 851 enhancements

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In an August ruling, Judge Mark Bennett (N.D.IA.) excoriated the arbitrary use of 851 enhancements and the resulting sentencing disparities it creates.  See US v. Young.

Judge Gleeson on 851s

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In US v. Kupa, Judge Gleeson (EDNY) has recently delivered a blistering critique of the abuse of 851 enhancements to force guilty pleas and punish defendants who go to trial.  Read it here.