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7th Circuit upholds sentence for drug offenses

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Dealing with the issue for the first time, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a certificate of appealability is needed for the part of a case that challenges the denial of collateral relief.

In United States of America v. Kimani Lanier Fleming, No. 11-1404, Kimani Fleming appealed his revised 480-month sentence and the District Court’s decision to use aggregation of individual drug quantities over a period of time to conclude whether Fleming possessed more than 50 grams of crack. Fleming was originally sentenced to life in prison for his various drug and firearms convictions, but his sentence was revised after Fleming filed a petition under 18 U.S.C. Section 2255 asserting his counsel had been constitutionally ineffective. The government then admitted it had failed to file its notice of enhanced penalty within the permitted time frame, causing the District Court to set aside the mandatory life sentence.

Fleming then appealed his revised sentence and challenged his conviction of possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute. He has no certificate of appealability on the conviction issue.

“The question is whether he needs a CA for his challenge to the aggregation ruling, which is the part of the case that was rejected in his § 2255 proceeding. Although we have not had occasion to address this situation before, our sister circuits have done so and have unanimously concluded that a CA is needed for the part of the case that challenges the denial of collateral relief,” wrote Judge Diane Wood. “We see no reason to part company with them, and we thus conclude that Fleming is not entitled to challenge the adverse portion of the district court’s decision on his § 2255 motion without a CA.”

The judges declined to grant him a CA based on alleged ineffectiveness of counsel and affirmed his sentence. They found the District Court reasonably relied in part on the testimony of a witness indicating the amount of cocaine powder Fleming was moving.

 

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  1. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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