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Sentencing Illicit Drug Traffickers: How do the Courts Handle Random Sampling Issues?

Sentencing Illicit Drug Traffickers: How do the Courts Handle Random Sampling Issues?

  1. jon-q

    During the last two years, several major developments in federal sentencing have taken place. It all started in June 2000 with Apprendi v. New Jersey, in which Justice O'Connor, in dissent, termed a “watershed in constitutional law.” Prior to Apprendi, a judge would sentence a convicted drug trafficker to imprisonment using the preponderance standard of proof on the quantities of drugs seized.

    The affect of Apprendi is to make more juries decide the quantity of drugs by the reasonable doubt standard. Although Apprendi had nothing to do with illicit drugs, the implication now is that all federal sentencing protocols are under revision.

    Since Apprendi was decided, huge numbers of cases involving convicted drug traffickers have been appealed, with the result that a ruling from the Supreme Court on further clarification of this issue is expected.

    This article discusses the repercussions on various statistical issues involved in the determination of total drug quantity under the changing protocols.