Monday, August 20, 2007
Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit issues one
In USA v. Morris (ND Ind., Judge Springmann), a 19-page opinion, Judge Wood writes:
Denard Morris was convicted on various drug charges, for which he received a typically severe sentence of 262 months’ incarceration. His appeal centers on alleged governmental misconduct at the trial. Morris’s cousin, Tramayne Peterson, pleaded guilty to Count I of the indictment and testified against Morris as part of a plea bargain with the government. When questioned about his plea deal at trial, Peterson asserted that the mandatory minimum sentence for his plea was 10 years; the prosecutor reinforced this by arguing to the jury on multiple occasions that Peterson could not get less than 10 years. Following Morris’s conviction, the government moved under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e) and U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1 for Peterson to be sentenced below the mandatory minimum to a 70-month term; the court granted that motion. While we conclude that the prosecutor did commit misconduct by misleading the jury about the plea deal that the government reached with Peterson, this act was not enough to infect the fundamental fairness of the entire proceeding. With the exception of Morris’s challenge to the concurrent sentence he received on Count II, which the prosecution agrees is beyond the statutory maximum and must be fixed on remand, all of his other arguments lack merit. Thus, with that minor qualification, we affirm.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 20, 2007 01:47 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions