US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
United States v. Dinh
Opinion Date: April 4, 2019
Judge: Jennifer Walker Elrod
Areas of Law: Criminal Law
The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after she pleaded guilty to distributing a large volume of pills containing Fentanyl analogues. The district court used the total weight of all the pills as the attributable drug quantity. The court held, under the 2016 Sentencing Guidelines, the default rule for calculating the weight of a controlled substance is its mixture weight. Because Fentanyl analogues were not otherwise specified, it was subject to the mixture rule. Furthermore, mixture weight calculations did not violate Due Process when, as here, the drug could not be easily separated from the mixture and was intended for sale and consumption in the mixture. The court rejected defendant's argument that the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause right, as enunciated by the Supreme Court in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), should be extended to the sentencing phase. Finally, the court held that the findings of the lab reports provided an adequate evidentiary basis with sufficient indicia of reliability for the presentencing report to conclude that all of the pills contained Fentanyl analogues, and defendant failed to offer competent rebuttal evidence.
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