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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. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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