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U.S. v. BLANKENSHIP

December 4, 1995

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROBERT BLANKENSHIP, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, District Judge:

OPINION

Methamphetamine — revisited.

And a mandatory minimum sentence.

This cause is before the Court on Defendant's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence.

This is the Court's preliminary consideration of this matter pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Proceedings in the United States District Courts Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which provides: "If it plainly appears from the face of the motion and any annexed exhibits and the prior proceedings in the case that the movant is not entitled to relief in district court, the judge shall make an order for its summary dismissal and cause the movant to be notified."

This case concerns whether Blankenship was prejudiced by the Court's failure to specifically find, at the time of sentencing, that the offense involved d- rather than l-methamphetamine. Although framed in terms of ineffective assistance of counsel (a Sixth Amendment claim) the crux of this case is the relationship of statutes and the Sentencing Guidelines.

For several years, the Sentencing Guidelines allowed different sentences depending upon which isomer of methamphetamine was involved in a criminal offense. The statute that imposes mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug offenses, however, treats the isomers identically.

Blankenship claims that he should have received the benefit of the Guidelines' approach to methamphetamine sentencing. He is unable to show that he was prejudiced, however, because this Court complied with the mandatory-minimum statute.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Defendant Robert Blankenship was found guilty by a jury of the sole count of the indictment, which charged that he violated 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 846 by participating in a conspiracy involving more than 100 grams of methamphetamine or more than one kilogram of a mixture containing methamphetamine.*fn1

At sentencing, the Court found Blankenship responsible for 1.817235 kilograms of methamphetamine and sentenced him to the mandatory minimum of 120 months. Blankenship's attorney objected to the computation of drug amounts in the Presentence Investigation Report, but he did not challenge the application of the mandatory minimum. Blankenship appealed his conviction but did not raise any of the arguments he raises in the instant motion.

B. Methamphetamine Sentencing

The impact of the distinction between two forms of the drug known as methamphetamine has been the subject of much litigation. Defendants have raised a variety of creative arguments for why their sentences for crimes involving methamphetamine should be shortened. The reason for the recent flurry of litigation is the confusing way the Sentencing Commission chose to deal with methamphetamine. See United States v. Cook, 49 F.3d 663, 665 n. 3 (10th ...


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