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July 11, 2005

More than a sperm whale's worth of relevant conduct

Sperm_whaleToday in US v. Garcia, No. 04-40963 (5th Cir. July 11, 2005) (available here), the Fifth Circuit, despite applying its tough plain error standard, vacated and remanded a sentence on Booker grounds.  That fact alone (as well as the court's sensible dodge of an ex post facto argument) makes the case notable for legal reasons.  But the decision really caught my eye because the facts indicated that the "district court calculated Garcia's base offense level based on relevant conduct involving 48,651.7 kilograms[!] of marijuana."

For those metrically challenged, 48,651.7 kilograms converts to over 107,000 pounds (or more than 53 tons) of marijuana.  To provide a frame of reference, according to this entry in the whale encyclopedia, the typical sperm whale only weighs 45 tons.  The extreme facts of Garcia cry out for some bad pot jokes — e.g., "... and you should have seen how many bags of potato chips the defendant stole for the munchies."  Much better jokes from readers, with liberal references to the Grateful Dead or Reefer Madness (or even Raich), are highly encouraged in the comments.

July 11, 2005 at 03:28 PM | Permalink


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Whoa, far out! (of the heartland)

Posted by: Matthew | Jul 11, 2005 4:30:34 PM

Dude ... that joke is worse than mine, dude...(though it does earn law geek points for a departure reference). Party on!

Posted by: Doug B. | Jul 11, 2005 4:45:42 PM

oh wow man, party on!

Posted by: dude | Jul 11, 2005 4:56:06 PM

Hate to be a party-pooper but "kilograms of marihuana" (sic) is used as a surrogate common denominator conversion factor under USSG 2D1.1(c) for measuring the total "relevant conduct" in cases involving multiple types of drugs. This case might well (indeed, likely did) involve no marijuana at all, but rather, say, crack and powder cocaine, or cocaine and heroin, or methamphetamine and cocaine, etc.

Posted by: Peter G | Jul 11, 2005 10:57:12 PM

A good and fair point, Peter, and it is certainly possible the relevant conduct included other drugs, although his guilty plea was only to a marijuana offense. And, even if other drugs were involved, the point I am trying to make with my metaphor is still salient: Garcia was sentenced for dealing the equivalent of more than a sperm whale's worth of mary jane.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jul 11, 2005 11:33:47 PM

I have a great joke about the Greatful...I mean Garcia...I mean...Wait, man, what are we talking about again?

Posted by: DEJ | Jul 13, 2005 1:53:14 PM

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