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Man’s 10-year cocaine sentence upheld by 7th Circuit

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a defendant’s argument that the drugs seized at his home with a warrant following his arrest should have been excluded from determining his sentence after the District judge ruled the warrant was invalid.

Tyler Sanders pleaded guilty to possessing more than 50 grams of cocaine base with the intent to distribute. At sentencing, the District judge found he possessed more than 500 grams of cocaine or cocaine base and sentenced him to 120 months. Most of that cocaine considered in sentencing was based on drugs seized from his house. There was a warrant, but the judge invalidated it and ruled the evidence seized from the house could not be used against him at trial because some information was recklessly omitted.

Sanders argued in United States of America v. Tyler Sanders, 13-1301, that the judge should have prohibited use of that evidence at sentencing, too. But the 7th Circuit disagreed, pointing to its decision in United States v. Brimah, 214 F.3d 854 (7th Circ. 2000), in which the court held the exclusionary rule does not apply at criminal sentencing.

Sanders keyed in on a footnote in that ruling that remarked the appeal did not present the question whether an “egregious” violation of the Fourth Amendment might justify suppressing at sentencing. Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote that for Sanders to succeed on appeal, he must persuade the court to create an “egregious violation” exception to the doctrine that the exclusionary rule does not apply to sentencing.

Easterbrook then laid out the reasons why that won’t work, including that the Supreme Court has held that the exclusionary rule does not apply to evidence obtained by officers who reasonably rely on a warrant or make certain kinds of negligent errors, Easterbrook wrote.

He also pointed out that an “egregious violation” exception is not necessary to deter officers from violating the Fourth Amendment – and deterrence is the goal of the exclusionary rule.

“The district judge did not err in following §3661 and considering the evidence found during the search of Sanders’s home,” he wrote.
 

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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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