The First Circuit decided two criminal cases yesterday; one involving defendant's conviction and life sentence for possession and distribution of crack cocaine, and the other involving a defendant's conviction and sentence for selling oxycodone.
In US v. Rodriguez-Velez, No. 07-2813, the court faced a challenge to a conviction for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine and sentence of life imprisonment. In affirming the conviction and the sentence, the court rejected defendant's various claims including; prosecutorial misconduct, that the district court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal, claims of erroneous evidentiary rulings, and improper enhancing of his sentence. With respect to the last claim, the court upheld defendant's life sentence in concluding that the district court acted within its discretion to enhance the sentence based on defendant's two prior felony drug convictions.
In US v. Ekasala, No. 09-1075, the court faced a challenge to a below-guidelines sentence for possession and distribution of oxycodone. On appeal, defendant's main contention was the constitutionality of charging marijuana equivalent for oxycodone irrationally high, resulting in higher base offense level. In affirming the conviction, the court held that defendant's argument must fail as long as the Sentencing Commission had a rational basis, which existed in this case.