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Decisions In Criminal Law Matters

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By FindLaw Staff on September 02, 2010 7:36 PM

US v. Gentles, 09-1431, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for distributing crack cocaine and a sentence of 64-months' imprisonment, followed by four years' supervised release, with a special condition of substance abuse treatment counseling.  In affirming, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion for a mistrial as although prosecutorial misconduct occurred, there is no evidence that it prejudiced the outcome of defendant's trial.  The court rejected defendant's claim that the prosecutor improperly vouched for the government's witness is rejected. Also, the probative value of defendant's prior drug transactions with the government witnesses, which demonstrated their prior familiarity with defendant, was not substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.  Lastly, defendant's sentence was not unreasonable as the district court was well within its discretion to sentence defendant to 64 months' imprisonment.


US v. Ellis, 09-1485, concerned a challenge to the district court's decision to sentence the defendant under the Armed Career Criminal Act, based on defendant's three previous convictions for a violent felony, including a previous juvenile adjudication for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.  In affirming, the court held that it was not blatant error for the sentencing court to take defendant's juvenile adjudication into consideration for the purpose of applying the ACCA, as given that the state law provides that juvenile adjudications are not "set aside' for the purpose of imposing sentence is later criminal proceedings against the defendant, it is far from clear that Massachusetts juvenile convictions should never be treated as predicate offense under the ACCA.

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