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District Court erred in drug sentence

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a man's sentence for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine because the District Court failed to figure out the quantity of the drug reasonably attributable to the defendant.

In United States of America v. Jeffrey Dean, No. 08-3287, Jeffrey Dean appealed his conspiracy to distribute conviction and the 156-month prison sentence. He was convicted by a jury, which also found him responsible for no more than 500 grams of the drug.

The District Court used the base-level offense of 38 based on the level computed in the pre-sentence report, but adjusted it down two levels because Dean was a minor player in the conspiracy. The judge added two levels for obstruction of justice because Dean stated under oath he never sold methamphetamine when the evidence showed otherwise. The adjusted offense level of 38 was then reduced four levels to 34 because the judge split the difference between 38 and 30, which is the guideline range for 500 grams. She then reduced it to a level 33 because addiction was the driving force behind Dean's participation in the offense.

The District Court never took the first essential step of calculating the correct base offense level because it failed to ascertain the quantity of methamphetamine reasonably foreseeable to Dean. It originally set the level at 38 because it was a reliable estimate of the amount of drugs being dealt by everyone in the conspiracy, but it didn't determine how much could be attributed to Dean, wrote Judge Kenneth Ripple. The Circuit Court rejected the approach of the District Court judge to split the difference between offense levels as the equivalent of a judicial determination of the amount of drugs attributable to Dean.

"We therefore must vacate Mr. Dean's sentence and remand this case to the district court so that it may make a specific finding as to the quantity of methamphetamine reasonably foreseeable to Mr. Dean and, on the basis of that finding, impose the correct sentence," he wrote.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the imposition of a two level increase after finding Dean committed obstruction of justice. It's clear from the transcript he willfully made misrepresentations under oath that were relevant to the prosecution with specific intent of obstructing justice, wrote Judge Ripple.

The federal appellate judges also affirmed Dean's conviction of conspiracy to distribute, finding the government introduced sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could find he intentionally joined the charged conspiracy.

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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