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Supreme Court to Decide if Sentencing for Crack is Wack

By Robyn Hagan Cain on November 28, 2011 3:01 PM

The Supreme Court granted cert this morning in Hill v. U.S., an appeal from the Seventh Circuit to address whether the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 can be applied to sentencing for an offense that occurred before the statute's effective date.

The Fair Sentencing Act, which became effective August 3, 2010, raised the amount of crack cocaine necessary to trigger the 10-year mandatory minimum term from 50 to 280 grams, and the amount needed to trigger a 5-year mandatory minimum from 5 to 28 grams.

A jury found Petitioner Corey Hill guilty of possessing 50 or more grams of crack in 2009. At sentencing in December 2010, the district judge relied on Seventh Circuit precedent to conclude that the Fair Sentencing Act did not apply retroactively to Hill's case, and sentenced Hill to 10 years in prison. The judge noted that he would have sentenced Hill to less than half that amount of time if not for the mandatory minimum.

While oral arguments have not yet been set, Hill will attempt to persuade the Supreme Court that the Fair Sentencing Act should apply to any defendant sentenced after its enactment, regardless of when the underlying crime was committed.

The Court consolidated Hill v. U.S. with a second Seventh Circuit mandatory minimum appeal, Dorsey v. U.S.

Hill isn't the only petitioner to earn a day before The Nine this week; the Court granted cert in three other cases as well:

  • Vasquez v. U.S.
  • Southern Union Company v. U.S.
  • Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp.

For updates on these petitions, and other cases pending before the Supreme Court, add FindLaw's Supreme Court blog to your RSS Feed.

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