Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Peters

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 30, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ALONZO PETERS

         SECTION A(3)

          ORDER AND REASONS RE: PRIOR CONVICTIONS

          JAY C. ZAINEY JUDGE.

         On August 24, 2016, the Government filed Bills of Information to Establish Prior Convictions (Rec. Docs. 526, 527, 528, 529) against defendants McCoy Walker, Leroy Price, Damian Barnes, and Alonzo Peters pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851(a). On February 21, 2017, the jury returned its verdict finding each of these defendants guilty as to the Count 2 drug conspiracy. Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851(b), on March 15, 2017, defendants appeared in court with their attorneys. After being informed that any challenge to a prior conviction which is not made before sentence is imposed may not thereafter be raised to attack the sentence, all defendants affirmed that they were previously convicted as alleged in their respective bills of information. (Rec. Doc. 1049, Court's Minute Entry 3/15/17).

         Defendants Alonzo Peters, McCoy Walker, and Damian Barnes have filed motions challenging the use of the prior convictions for sentencing enhancement purposes.

         Motions to Strike (Rec. Docs. 652 & 687) - Alonzo Peters and McCoy Walker

         Defendants argue that the imposition of a mandatory life sentence for the Count 2 drug conspiracy would violate their Fifth Amendment due process rights and the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

         Defendants' Fifth Amendment argument is premised on the contention that the Government only filed the bills after they refused to accept a plea deal. Defendants contend that the Government acted vindictively and retaliated against them for exercising their right to a jury trial. Defendants point to the timeline of events-the Government filed the bills only fourteen days before trial was originally scheduled to begin in September 2016.

         The Court finds insufficient evidence of prosecutorial vindictiveness to support this argument. Section 851 by design gives the Government much discretion to use the prior convictions as an incentive in plea negotiations.

         The Court finds no support for the legal argument that a mandatory life sentence on Count 2 would violate the Eighth Amendment.

         The motions to strike are DENIED.

         Supplemental Motion to Strike (Rec. Doc. 1046) - Alonzo Peters

         The § 851 bill of information against Peters alleges a Count 1 conviction for possession of cocaine and a Count 2 conviction for possession with intent to distribute marijuana. (Rec. Doc. 529). The offenses occurred on different dates and were the subject of separate criminal cases but the cases were disposed of via pleas taken on May 25, 2011, in the same proceeding. The certified documents from the state court indicate that on the cocaine charge, Peters received a sentence of 5 years imprisonment, deferred and 5 years of active probation. (Rec. Doc. 1051-2 at 7). On the marijuana charge, Peters received 10 years imprisonment, deferred and 5 years of active probation. (Id. at 6). The date of sentencing for both cases was May 25, 2011, and the sentences were to run concurrently. The sentences were imposed pursuant to Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure article 893.[1]

         Unfortunately, Peters was rearrested on August 12, 2011, for violating the terms of his probation, and remained in custody through June 22, 2012, when his probation was revoked. (Rec. Doc. 1051-3 at 5). The state court docket master reflects that the original consecutive sentences of 5 (cocaine) and 10 (marijuana) years became executory on that date. Peters was remanded to the state DOC and the cases were closed.

         The pertinent sentencing enhancement provisions of 21 U.S.C. § 841 require a prior conviction for a felony drug offense that has become final.[2] Section 851, which governs proceedings to establish prior convictions, contains a statute of limitations provision: “No person who stands convicted of an offense under this part may challenge the validity of any prior conviction alleged under this section which occurred morethan five ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.