November 15, 2005
Report from the Angelos oral argument
As noted here yesterday, the Tenth Circuit this morning heard oral argument in the appeal by Weldon Angelos, the first-time offender sentenced to 55 years' imprisonment for marijuana sales under federal mandatory sentencing statutes. The Rocky Mountain News has this report on the arguments, which includes these highlights:
"It's important that the court system be a final check," said Jerome Mooney of Salt Lake City, one of Angelos' lawyers. "The court has to have the ability to say, 'Okay, this one went too far.'"
Utah federal prosecutor Robert Lund said only Congress has the power to decide whether mandatory minimum sentences and that judges must impose them without taking individual circumstances into account. "You're arguing that we are bound by the law ... without any reference to common sense, fairness or proportionality. We do not have the authority to overturn this sentence?" inquired 10th Circuit Judge Stephen Anderson of Utah. "Yes," replied Lund.
November 15, 2005 at 05:14 PM | Permalink
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I haven't heard the argument or read the briefs, but a two-minute review of the appellant's brief reveals this case was about more than "marijuana sales" - Angelos sustained three convictions for 924(c) offenses as well as convictions for money laundering and additional weapons charges.
I would be suprised if Angelos, the "first time offender" really just decided to get into the business of dealing hundreds of kilos (100 kilos is required to establish even the lowest mandatory minimum) of marijuana and was caught in the feds net right off the bat.
Whatever the case, these are crimes committed by sophisticated, violent drug dealers and long sentences are appropriate to deal with them. Just how long is up to Congress, in my opinion.
Tom - Prosecutor
Posted by: Tom | Nov 16, 2005 9:45:18 AM