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2012 supreme court case project



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  • 2. The Case Background Under the old law 5 grams of crack cocaine and 500 grams of powder cocaine had the same mandatory sentence under federal guidelines (5 years)  And 50 grams of crack cocaine and 5 kilograms of powder cocaine were the same for sentences (10 years) This led to the 100-1 sentencing ratio between crack and powder cocaine
  • 3. Background Continued This bill was introduced by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill) According to him:  “Drug use is a serious problem in America and we need tough legislation to combat it. But in addition to being tough, our drug laws must be smart and fair. Our current cocaine laws are not. The sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine has contributed to the imprisonment of African Americans at six times the rate of whites and to the United States’ position as the world’s leader in incarcerations. Congress has talked about addressing this injustice for long enough; it’s time for us to act.”
  • 4. Background Continued The new law would change this to an 18-1 ratio It will eliminate the mandatory minimum 5 year sentence for simple procession of crack cocaine. Enhance penalties if procession involves violence or bribery of a law enforcement agent
  • 5. The Implementation This bill passed the Senate in March of 2010 and the House in July of 2010 It was signed into law on August 3, 2010 by President Obama This law is NOT retroactive.  No one arrested and convicted before will fall under these new guidelines. This is only for new cases
  • 6. Why this is before the Supreme Court? When the new law took effect, there were cases pending and awaiting sentencing. Since the original offense and conviction to place before the new law was passed the defendant was sentenced under the old guidelines, not the new ones even though the sentences happened after the new law too effect
  • 7. The Specific Case before the Supreme Court Edward Dorsey was arrested in August of 2008 in possession of 5.5 grams of crack cocaine He had a previous drug conviction Based on these two factors he was sentenced to the mandatory minimum of 10 years. He was sentenced in September of 2010 (after the law was signed)
  • 8. More specifics Dorsey and his lawyers argue that since the FSA (Fair Sentence Act) was signed in August and it was put into effect in November of 2010 as a rush, it should have been applied to his case The judge ruled since his arrest and guilty plea happened before the FSA went into effect it does not apply The FSA states that there is not retroactive sentencing Dorsey is asking for the Supreme Court to overturn the judge’s ruling and allow for his sentencing to be based on the new guidelines and not the old.
  • 9. Resources (with notes on how they were used) http://www.reuters.com/supreme-court/2011-2012 (this was used to pick a case) From there I used Google to find more information about the actual case that happened that lead to the Supreme Court getting this case (I googled 2010 Fair Sentencing Act) http://www.famm.org/FederalSentencing/USCongress/BillsinCong ress/TheFairSentencingActof2010.aspx (this site was where I got most of my background information on the law that led to the case)  I also used links within this site for additional information (such as the FAQ sheet and others) I then went back to Google to find out more about Edward Dorsey and how his case applies to this law (how it all tied together). http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=1680487864618624 9759&hl=en&as_sdt=2,50 (from here I got the information of how it all comes together)
  • 10. More Resources and thoughts behind it In order to understand this case, I had to look at many different sources and go in several directions to get the big picture. This information will not all be clearly presented in one place since a Supreme Court Case does not just happen, there are many factors and events that lead to it coming before the high court Information also cannot be copied and pasted. These sites offer very extensive information and are much more details than the average person needs or wants. You need to take the information and present it in a logical, easy to understand form.
  • 11. The Assignment Choose a Supreme Court Case Give background to make it clear how it got this far and why Give any additional information that is needed in order to make this case clear to the casual reader (assume they know nothing about this topic) Have resources  Google is not a source, it is a gateway  Wikipedia can be used but it cannot be the only source, you need information to back this up. Give your thoughts on this case
  • 12. Points Court case and overview 25 pts Background 25 pts Details on how it got to SC 25 pts Wrap up/personal thoughts 10 pts Resources with how you got to them 15 pts Total 100 pts Make sure all sections are complete for full credit