- Are there limits to the Constitutional right to compel attendance of favorable witnesses at trial?
- How does the Confrontation Clause serve to protect the rights of the criminally accused?
- What is the statute of limitations in your state for the following offenses: murder, kidnapping, simple battery and traffic offenses? Why are there differences?
- In Spears v. United States, 555 U.S. 261 (2009), the defendant was convicted of conspiracy to distribute at least 50 grams of cocaine base and at least 500 grams of powder cocaine. At sentencing, the court determined that the drug quantities involved yielded an offense level of 38, that his criminal history justified placing him in the Guidelines’ criminal history category IV. As illustrated in Table 15.3, the resulting advisory Sentencing Guidelines range was imprisonment for 324 to 405 months. Under the mandatory minimum laws in effect at the time, someone convicted of possessing five grams of crack cocaine (the approximate weight of two pennies) received at least five years in prison and someone convicted of possessing fifty grams of crack cocaine receive a mandatory-minimum sentence of ten years. In contrast, the weight required to trigger the same sentences with powder cocaine was 100 times greater. The sentencing judge believed this 100:1 ratio between quantities of powder and crack cocaine to be excessive. Accordingly, the judge recalculated the offense level using a 20:1 ratio, resulting in an offense level of 34 with a sentencing range of 210 to 262 months’ imprisonment. The judge imposed a 240-month sentence, the statutory minimum.
Do you think it was right for the judge to recalculate the offense level using his own
20:1 ratio rather than apply the 100:1 ratio contained in the Guidelines? Why or why
- What is meant by the “best evidence” rule? Give an example.