Our office challenges constitutionality of minimum mandatory drug laws
June 22, 2017 Essex County Superior Court case no. 1577CR318, April 19, 2016, Lawrence District Court case no. 1518CR535. Client charged with distribution of cocaine to police informant. While that matter pending in Lawrence, client arrested following suspected 20 gram heroin sale. Client faces 3.5 year minimum mandatory prison sentence. On district court case, we succeed in obtaining a sentence of probation. On superior court case, minimum mandatory sentence strips judge of authority to impose sentence below mandatory. We file a motion requesting that the court strike down the Commonwealth's minimum mandatory drug laws. We argue that the mandatory drug laws violate constitutional equal protection guarantee, given data which suggested that minorities were incarcerated at a rate 75% greater than whites, despite data demonstrating that drug distribution offenses were committed by whites and non-whites with equal frequency. We also argue that the mandatory drug laws violate the separation of powers by vesting in the executive the traditionally judicial function of sentencing. Finally, we argue that the mandatory drug laws constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Sadly, the Court was not prepared to disrupt the status quo by granting our motion. Nevertheless, the prosecutor agreed to a sentence of 2 years imprisonment - 18 months below the applicable minimum mandatory.
Practice area(s): Criminal Defense, Constitutional Law