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June 18, 2015

SCOTUS unanimously rules for federal defendant on mens rea issue in McFadden CSA case

The US Supreme Court has just handed down its opinion in the Federal criminal case of McFadden v. US, No. 14-348 (S. Ct. June 18, 2015) (available here).  Justice Thomas wrote the opinion for the Court, which garnered no dissents but generated a short concurrence by the Chief Justice.  The Court's opinion begins this way:

The Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986 (Analogue Act) identifies a category of substances substantially similar to those listed on the federal controlled substance schedules, 21 U.S.C. § 802(32)(A), and then instructs courts to treat those analogues, if intended for human consumption, as controlled substances listed on schedule I for purposes of federal law, §813.  The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in turn makes it unlawful knowingly to manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. § 841(a)(1).  The question presented in this case concerns the knowledge necessary for conviction under § 841(a)(1) when the controlled substance at issue is in fact an analogue.

We hold that § 841(a)(1) requires the Government to establish that the defendant knew he was dealing with “a controlled substance.”  When the substance is an analogue, that knowledge requirement is met if the defendant knew that the substance was controlled under the CSA or the Analogue Act, even if he did not know its identity.  The knowledge requirement is also met if the defendant knew the specific features of the substance that make it a “‘controlled substance analogue.’” § 802(32)(A).  Because the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit approved a jury instruction that did not accurately convey this knowledge requirement, we vacate its judgment and remand for that court to determine whether the error was harmless.

June 18, 2015 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

Comments

Chief Justice adds a "pop quiz."

Quite interesting concurring and dissenting opinions today.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 18, 2015 10:50:21 AM

From the Catholic Church Catechism. A mortal sin is any violation of the Ten Commandments.

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."

In defense of the Church, they believed in their faith that God would judge the mind of the sinner upon arrival in heaven. So a hunter shooting another thinking him a deer, or one doing after the other's wife paid him $10,000 would have committed the same act, with the same harm, butGod would read the mind of the sinner and send him to the correct after life.

The phrase mens rea.

Latin. The foreign language of a church. No one speaks Latin save members of the Catholic Church.

From a Medieval loophole for sinners, and not appropriate for a secular nation.

The church had the faith that God could read minds. Even the Medieval Church did not believe man could read minds.

When it comes to productive males having sex with a younger girl in love with them, there is strict liability. When it comes to mass murdering drug dealers, every loophole is trotted out by the vile feminist lawyer and its male running dogs.

The unanimity proves, a) the lawyer is stupid; b) there is no exception to that rule; 3) the stupidity of the lawyer will be imposed on the nation at the point of a gun. These lawyers unanimously held that a mind must be read before conviction. A Psychic Friend Connection will be established with vicious drug dealers. Their convictions will be overturned, if they failed to read the latest listing of collateral anaologuesof illegal drugs.

Stunning spectacle of stupidity, illegality, and violation of the Establishment Clause. But expected.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 18, 2015 8:57:01 PM

Likening "mass murdering drug dealers" to bath-salts salesmen? Seems like a bit of a reach, Supremacy.

I like the ruling and the notion the feds -- armed as they are with vague, sweeping statutes and more than enough power to easily compel confessions from the innocent as well as the guilty -- should have to show accused citizens actually knew they were doing something wrong before chucking them into a dungeon.

Posted by: John K | Jun 19, 2015 9:10:32 AM

John. I am with you on restraining prosecutors. I object to religious doctrine. I object to the supernatural mind reading. As to mass murder, try selling in his territory. All crime should be strict liability. Sort during sentencing. Executive branch liable for errors.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 19, 2015 11:58:09 AM

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