Capital Habeas, Drug Conspiracy, and Firearm Possession Appeals Decided
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed one firearm possession conviction, and one set of drug conspiracy convictions. The court also affirmed the denial of a capital habeas petition.
In US v. Rozier, 08-17061, the court affirmed defendant's firearm possession conviction and sentence, on the grounds that 1) 18 U.S.C. section 922(g)(1) is constitutional, even if a felon possesses a firearm purely for self-defense; and 2) it was a sufficient basis for defendant's sentence that the district judge, at sentencing, found that defendant had in fact been convicted of three or more prior serious drug offenses.
In US v. Bacon, No. 08-10463, the court of appeals affirmed defendants' drug conspiracy conviction and sentence in part where 1) the jury was entitled to find the government's case convincing and the government witnesses credible even though the evidence was circumstantial; 2) the jurors could reasonably infer that one defendant was a drug distributor; and 3) the jury could consider presence as a probative factor in determining whether one defendant knowingly and intentionally participated in a criminal scheme. However, the court vacated one defendant's sentence where, when a defendant is convicted of participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy under 21 U.S.C. section 846, the court must sentence the defendant based on an individualized finding, supportable by a preponderance of the evidence, as to the drug quantity foreseeable by that defendant.
In Williams v. Allen, No. 08-11905, a capital habeas case, the court of appeals affirmed the denial of the petition where 1) defense counsel was not ineffective because the record illustrated several reasons why a reasonable defense counsel would pursue an insanity defense based on a mental disease, exclusive of voluntary intoxication; 2) given the contradictory accounts regarding the degree of petitioner's intoxication, it was unlikely that inconsistencies in testimony on that issue would have changed the outcome of the proceedings; 3) counsel adequately emphasized that petitioner engaged in excessive alcohol and drug consumption prior to the crimes, and petitioner did not demonstrate that counsel needed to argue further; and 4) the jury instructions did not relieve the prosecution's burden of proving intent to commit capital murder.