This very important case demonstrates reflects the willingness, and in fact, preference of the Supreme Court to avoid a literal interpretation of the law and instead view it as contextual.
New York, New York (PRWEB) May 14, 2013
In the 14th and latest installment of his awareness campaign that is looking at key cases that have defined United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.), Federal appeals lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi is focusing on DePierre v. United States 131 S. Ct. 2225, in which the Supreme Court affirmed that the term ‘cocaine base’ refers to all forms of cocaine, and not only to crack cocaine.
In DePierre v. United States 131 S. Ct. 2225, the petitioner DePierre was charged under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 (ADAA) for distributing two bags of cocaine that exceeded 50 grams. At trial, while the Prosecution presented evidence to establish that the distributed substance was indeed cocaine base, it could not prove that it was crack cocaine.
DePierre argued that, while the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 (ADAA) referred to cocaine, an amendment in 1993 to United States Sentencing Guidelines referred only to crack cocaine. As a result, the jury should be given explicit instructions to find him guilty only if it deemed the substance in question was, in fact, crack cocaine.
The District Court, Court of Appeals and ultimately, Supreme Court rejected DePierre’s argument and affirmed four key points:
- While Congress was preoccupied with concerns over crack when the ADAA was passed in 1986, they clearly intended to refer to all forms of cocaine base.
- The Prosecution is not obligated to prove that coca leaves contain cocaine in its base form.
- The Court is not required to defer to the 1993 Sentencing Guidelines Amendment when interpreting the ADAA, even though it was legislated 7 years earlier.
- There is no ambiguity regarding interpretation of the ADAA, and as such neither defendants nor petitioners who appeal a decision are entitled to leniency.
“This very important case demonstrates reflects the willingness, and in fact, preference of the Supreme Court to avoid a literal interpretation of the law and instead view it as contextual,” commented New York City-based Federal appeals lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi. “And while this certainly adds complexity and, frankly, uncertainty to the justice system, it’s fundamentally essential. As we’ve seen in far too many cases involving egregious and tragic miscarriages of justice, facts don’t speak for themselves, and neither do laws. If we fail to remember this, we will quickly reduce the practice of law to nothing more than a clerical contest -- and anyone who champions this view will hopefully never find themselves on the wrong end of a false accusation or trumped-up charge. They happen far, far more than most people realize.”
Mr. Preziosi’s full analysis of DePierre v. United States 131 S. Ct. 2225 is available on his firm’s website at http://www.newyorkappellatelawyer.com/the-anti-drug-abuse-act-of-1986-defining-cocaine-base
For more information or media inquiries, email newyorkappellatelawyer(at)gmail(dot)com or phone (212) 300-3845.
Federal appeals lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi handles criminal appeals in all U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and in New York State Appellate Courts (including Appellate Divisions and the New York Court of Appeals). Whether a case is under the Penal Law in New York State Courts or under Federal Law in the U.S. District Courts, Mr. Preziosi has extensive experience with all types of appellate matters in both the New York State Courts and the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal. Mr. Preziosi has pursued appellate cases in the Appellate Divisions, the Appellate
Terms and the highest court in the State of New York, the New York Court of Appeals. He has also taken on cases in the various U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, and successfully identified legal issues, designed and written briefs and conducted oral argument. The firm’s practice is concentrated in the area of appeals in criminal matters in both State and Federal Courts, and Mr. Preziosi recently launched a United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) awareness campaign to help the general public learn more about this critically important and influential aspect of criminal law.
Learn more at http://www.newyorkappellatelawyer.com.