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7th Circuit upholds drug convictions, remands for resentencing

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed three defendants’ convictions stemming from a cocaine distribution ring in Indianapolis but found that there were errors in sentencing the defendants.

Kenneth Jones, Devon Young and Elisha Drake were connected to Ramone Mockabee through FBI and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department investigations. The investigators wiretapped phones, including that of Mockabee, considered a leader of the drug distribution ring. These conversations, along with evidence obtained following a search of Jones’ home, supported the government’s charges against the defendants. Jones, Young and Drake went to trial and were convicted. Mockabee pleaded guilty.

In the consolidated appeals of United States of America v. Kenneth Jones, Ramone Mockabee, Devon Young and Elisha Drake, 11-2267, 11-2288, 11-2535, 11-2687, the 7th Circuit affirmed Jones’, Young’s and Drake’s convictions. The judges found no error in denying Jones’ pre-trial motion to suppress evidence found at an Indianapolis home, finding investigators provided sufficient evidence to the magistrate issuing the warrant that the address was a residence of Jones.

The judges also found sufficient evidence to support the finding Jones has a substantial connection to that Indianapolis address and the crack cocaine located in it. And while the District Court erred under Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and 704 in admitting a detective’s testimony concerning the meaning of drug-related telephone conversations involving Drake, it was a harmless error as to Drake. The government also presented sufficient evidence to establish that Young conspired to distribute crack cocaine.

But the 7th Circuit found sentencing errors related to Mockabee, Jones and Drake. The government admitted an error occurred when Jones was denied his request to be sentenced under the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, because it applied to him at the time of sentencing. Mockabee should have been sentenced under the 2009 version of the guidelines in place at the time the crimes were committed instead of the 2010 version in place at sentencing. The more recent version provides for a higher sentencing guideline range, so he must be resentenced. The judges rejected his argument that the District Court erred in applying a four-level sentence enhancement based on the finding he was a leader or organizer of the criminal activity.

Drake must be resentenced based on Alleyne v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2151, 2155 (2013), which held that any fact that increases the mandatory minimum is an element of the crime that must be submitted to the jury. The jury failed to make specific findings regarding the drug quantities, which increased her mandatory minimum sentence by 10 years.

 

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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