ILNews

Defendant entitled to resentencing under Fair Sentencing Act

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a northern Indiana man’s convictions of distributing crack cocaine and conspiracy to distribute the drug, but found that he is entitled to resentencing under the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.

Landen Cowart, a former convict working as a confidential informant with the government, arranged to buy cocaine from Ronald Love, aka “Black.” On Sept. 9, 2009, he exchanged $550 in cash with Shelby Deloney, who asked Cowart if he was “with Black.” Ronald Love was in the car that Deloney arrived at the scene in.

Love suspected Cowart was behind the robbery of one of his crack houses, so at another arranged drug buy on Sept. 14, 2009, Love, Deloney and Robert Acklin began beating Cowart. Police heard the commotion over Cowart’s hidden wire and entered the house where the deal went down. Love was indicted in October but sentenced after August 2010.

Love argues that the evidence didn’t support his conspiracy conviction, the trial court improperly declined to give a “buyer-seller” jury instruction, the statement “with Black” was improperly admitted, and his sentence was improperly calculated.

The 7th Circuit found the government’s evidence was detailed enough to show there was an agreement for Love to distribute crack and that he was not entitled to the “buyer-seller” instruction because it contradicts his defense that he wasn’t involved in the Sept. 9 drug sale and that the Sept. 14 beating had nothing to do with drugs.

The judges upheld the admittance of Cowart’s testimony that Deloney asked if he was “with Black.”

But Love is entitled to resentencing because he did not benefit from the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which applies to people who committed crimes before Aug. 3, 2010, and were sentenced after that date. The District Court also incorrectly calculated the guidelines sentence for his drug conviction, but properly imposed a two-level sentencing enhancement for being an organizer, leader, manager or supervisor of the conspiracy.

The case, United States of America v. Ronald Love, 11-2547, goes back to the District Court for further proceedings.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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