Supreme Court Lets 55 Year Drug Sentence Stand

Even though the trial judge, a conservative, called the 55 year sentence of Weldon Angelos excessive, the Supreme Court let it stand today.

Angelos' crime? Carrying a handgun during three 8 oz. marijuana sales.

The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a mandatory 55-year prison sentence, condemned as excessive by the federal judge who imposed it, for a man convicted of carrying a handgun during three marijuana deals.

It didn't matter than he never brandished or used the gun.

Record producer Weldon Angelos received the minimum sentence under the law - a harsher sentence than a child rapist or a terrorist who detonates a bomb aboard an aircraft would receive, according to his attorneys. The justices, without comment, left the prison term undisturbed.

Four former attorneys general and 145 former prosecutors and judges wrote in support of a lighter sentence for Angelos. Even the sentencing judge, U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell, an appointee of President Bush, called the sentence "unjust, cruel and irrational." But he said the law left him no choice.

Background here and here. As I wrote here, Harry Rimm, who authored the brief for the 10th Circuit, told me

We had 163 signatories for the Brief to the 10th Circuit, including former US Attorneys General, former US Attorneys, other former high ranking DOJ officials, retired federal Circuit judges and retired federal District Judges.

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    55 year sentence (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by wlgriffi on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 02:52:51 PM EST
    It isn't a question of a drug dealer being convicted. It's the unreasonable length of the sentence. One can't fault the supreme court for upholding the law. The fault lies with the legislators who passed such a law. The fact that the judge who passed the originl sentence found the law to be unreasonable but his hands were tied should be a clue to the law and order wingnuts that perhaps some common sense should be used when passing legislation.

    8th Amendment says the Supreme Court are wankers (none / 0) (#20)
    by jerry on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 09:28:29 PM EST
    It's the unreasonable length of the sentence. One can't fault the supreme court for upholding the law.

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    Yeah, it turns out that I can fault the Supreme Court for upholding the law.


    If you cannot control how a person... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Bill Arnett on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 12:37:43 PM EST
    ...is allowed to recreate, you cannot subjugate the masses.

    To allow unfettered recreation or the use of drugs causes a loss of control, something not to be allowed under our new totalitarian, Big Brother society.

    Orwell was off by twenty years, but America may not survive the damage done to her.

    Easily explained (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 12:49:33 PM EST
    The presence of a gun is easy to explain.  A drug dealer, like any businessman, has to protect his inventory.  An MJ dealer can't call the cops when he gets robbed and have insurance cover his inventory.  So, prohibition leaves him no choice but to arm himself to protect his person and his business.

    But... (none / 0) (#16)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 05:07:00 PM EST
    you think drugs should be legal.  I don't know how you can make that jive in your mind with this comment.  But I bet you are the type who would stop eating lettuce if congress passed a law prohibiting it.  A sheep, in other words.

    It's an unnecessary, legislature mandated risk that does not have to be...if we'd only wake up and demand the repeal of some tyrannical laws.

    I know you're happy about having to pay to cloth and feed this guy for 55 years, I can think of better ways for my money to be spent.  


    Getting rid... (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 01:28:01 PM EST
    Some here would like to see you put away as well, but we would fight to get you out if you were incarcerated for just being an a&&hole.

    Saudi Arabia seems like the perfect place for you to move to as they share your thoughts on about imprisonment.

    Or maybe singapore?

    The obvious (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 01:35:17 PM EST
    Just pointing out the obvious...the presence of a gun in this case does not automatically imply any violent intent....merely defense of self and property.  Is that a crime now too?

    If the plant was legal, its distributors wouldn't need firearms.  Simple really.

    You assume dealers of prohibited plants are violent, or "bad".  My personal experience flies in the face of that wrongful assumption.  It's about protection and the second amendment.

    Not for nothing..... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 02:04:18 PM EST
    Narius, I don't think me and my friends would want you around, no offense.  We are a freedom loving bunch, not sure if there is room for a tyranny supporter in the group.  But we would show you and your ways more respect than you show ours, no doubt about that.

    Funny, I used to feel the same way you do about the 2nd amendment, but I flip-flopped when I realized then only police would have guns...a recipe for further tyranny.  I sincerely believe we have only remained this free for this long because of the 2nd amendment.


    why yes, I do (none / 0) (#18)
    by Sailor on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 05:32:43 PM EST
    Do you mean you know lots of "good" drug dealers?
    Not as many as I used to know but they still tend to be better people than the drug pimps I have to deal with from Big Pharma.

    He got a longer sentence than most murderers, rapists and home invaders.

    'Cruel and unusual' could describe the supremes in this case, who turned this down but took a case about a kid displaying a banner off school grounds that the school then stole from him and suspended him for 10 days.


    Yeah yeah yeah (none / 0) (#23)
    by scarshapedstar on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 12:42:05 PM EST
    Please, when you're going to write posts like this, just save us some time and put (tedious, pedantic rightwing boilerplate) instead.

    What on earth does any of this have to do with arbitrary mandatory sentencing? That's the question you should be asking. Good luck finding an answer.


    What's it worth to you? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Joe Bob on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 04:48:48 PM EST
    Assuming that the convict lives long enough to serve the full 55 years: Assume (lowball estimate)an incarceration cost of $25,000/year x 55 years = $1,375,000. The tax revenue that represents is equivalent to that of 4 average Americans working and paying taxes their entire lives.

    Should gun-toting drug dealers be locked up? Undoubtedly. But, a life sentence for a non-violent crime? What a waste. Look at it another way: we could send 25 kids to college for what it will take to keep Mr. Angelos locked up. So, before anyone gets too gleeful about throwing the book at the bad guys please at least acknowledge the tradeoffs involved.

    That aside, where is the proportionality here? You can get a sentence of less than 10 years for killing someone...on purpose. So where is the sense in locking someone up for 55 years for selling 1.5 pounds of weed and carrying a gun they never used?

    Don't ask me that.... (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 05:10:05 PM EST
    Should gun-toting drug dealers be locked up?

    I say absolutely not...unless the used the gun to shoot somebody, in which case lock 'em up for murder/attempted murder.

    Should gun-toting liquor store owners be locked up?  2 in the same to me.


    All because of... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 04:59:19 PM EST
    prohibition, without which no drug dealer would feel the need to be armed.  They would have the same legal protections as a florist if it wasn't for prohibition.

    But instead of speaking against the prohibition that brings violence to the drug trade, you cheerlead another obscene prison sentence.  I don't get it....how can you oppose prohibition but support draconian prison sentences for it's victims?  

    I've got a buddy, not a thug, in a cage right now for possesion of a controlled substance while possesing a firearm.  I know for a fact the only reason he obtained a firearm was to protect himself from robbery.  He never hurt nobody.  He was just gonna be damned to let some thief walk off with the means to feed his daughter.  Now the state feeds his daughter...who is served by this?  

    Drugs are safer than prohibition...it doesn't have to be "what might have been", it can be reality if we just held our legislators to account and got these terrible, harmful laws off the books.


    Don't forget the cash (none / 0) (#19)
    by Che's Lounge on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 07:31:55 PM EST
    Narius added in cash, which makes it even more evil. LOL


    You owe me a keyboard.


    That was a valiant effort.

    For the record, I have been buying pot for over 30 years. I have, at times in the distant past, or on rare present day occasions, purchased other illegal drugs in personal use quantities. I have purchased from friends and strangers. I have never, ever seen any one of those people brandish, or even inadvertently reveal, a gun. I do not know anyone who has ever been in that situation. IMHO gun carrying drug dealers represent a microcosm of the recreational drug culture in this country. The MSM promotes the bad guy image. Again the sheeple (Nahahaharius) are told to be afraid, and so they support these draconian laws.

    Keyboard (none / 0) (#21)
    by squeaky on Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 11:26:25 PM EST
    lol.....What happened to your keyboard? I can only imagine

    I try..... (none / 0) (#22)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 08:31:06 AM EST
    Che, I try.  But you just can't explain to those outside the scene what it is really like...they've seen too many episodes of Miami Vice and swallow every stereotype and misconception.

    Freedom scares the crap out of 'em.


    Somehow I doubt Narius will understand this (none / 0) (#24)
    by scarshapedstar on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 12:48:12 PM EST
    But bringing a gun out on the street with lots of cash + drugs on you put everyone around you at risks.

    Okay, so there's two ways to eliminate that risk.

    1. Go around shooting and arresting thousands of people a year for carrying and distrubuting a harmless plant.

    2. Just legalize the stuff, and let him sell it from home via PayPal. No guns, no cash, everyone's happy.

    Not me..... (none / 0) (#25)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 01:32:27 PM EST
    Easy scar...I don't use pay-pal and I'm a cash only guy:)