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September 7, 2005

Second Circuit works out Apprendi indictment issue

Thanks to this post over at How Appealing, I see that today in US v. Cordoba-Murgas, No. 04-3131 (2d Cir. Sept. 7, 2005) (available here), the Second Circuit addresses an issue relating to Apprendi and indictments.  Here are snippets from the start of the opinion:

We are asked to determine whether a defendant who has been indicted for possession with intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a), with no particular quantity specified in the indictment, may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment longer than the statutory maximum for a violation of that crime with an unspecified quantity of drugs, if the defendant admits to a specific quantity in his plea allocution which would allow for the longer sentence....

We conclude that though an indictment can be waived by a defendant, admission of quantity in a plea allocution does not constitute a waiver of the required elements of an indictment. Therefore, when a defendant has been indicted for a drug crime involving an unspecified quantity of drugs, the defendant cannot be sentenced above the statutory maximum for an indeterminate quantity of drugs, as set forth in 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C).

My chief reaction to this ruling is that if it takes 5+ years to work out in the lower courts this sort of Apprendi indictment issue, its going to take forever to work out all the Blakely/Booker issues that  need to be resolved.

UPDATE:  The Second Circuit Blog has more on Cordoba-Murgas here.

September 7, 2005 at 09:05 PM | Permalink

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