Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, November 1, 2004


Page 1


Ninth Circuit Upholds 22-Year Sentence Imposed on Cocaine Dealer From Jordan Downs Projects


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A sentence of more than 20 years in prison for a cocaine dealer who lived in the Jordan Downs Projects in Watts was affirmed Friday by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 262-month sentence, which includes a 20-year mandatory minimum followed by 10 years of supervised release, was imposed by U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder on Jerry Wayne Mayfield. In affirming, the appellate panel rejected claims that the mandatory minimum did not apply and that the sentence should be cut because the judge considered facts not determined by the jury.

Mayfield was originally sentenced to 30 years in prison by Judge James Ideman—who has since retired—for possessing more than 500 grams of crack cocaine with intent to distribute, including a 20-year mandatory minimum. The applicable statute provides that the mandatory minimum, normally 10 years, is doubled if the prosecution alleges and proves that the defendant has a prior felony drug conviction.

The first conviction was overturned on appeal.

The charges stemmed from a 1997 raid by the Los Angeles Police Department and FBI on Mayfield’s apartment.

Mayfield and Manyale Gilbert were arrested. Mayfield was found to be in possession of nearly $2,000 in cash and a pager, and drug paraphernalia was found in the apartment, along with a shoe box containing rock cocaine. Gilbert gave police statements  implicating himself and Mayfield.

The parties were tried jointly. Gilbert’s statements  were admitted after Ideman ordered the prosecution to “clean [them] up.”

On Mayfield’s first appeal, a divided panel ruled that the judge should have either severed the trials or given limiting instructions as the use of the statements, and that Mayfield was prejudiced as a result of the judge doing neither.

On remand, Mayfield was convicted again. At sentencing, the judge ruled that the 20-year mandatory still applied, even though the government did not re-file the information alleging the prior conviction.

Senior Judge David Thompson, writing for the Ninth Circuit Friday, agreed with Assistant U.S. Attorney Tresa Mack that the original filing placed the defense on notice that Mayfield was subject to the mandatory minimum, and that there is no requirement of re-notice following a reversal on appeal.

Defense attorney David Evans, a Pasadena sole practitioner, also argued that under the recent decision in Blakely v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004), and the Ninth Circuit’s subsequent decision in United States v. Ameline, 376 F.3d 967, the judge had invalidly imposed a sentence enhancement based on the defendant’s possession  of a gun during the commission of a crime.

But Thompson explained that under those cases, the right to trial by jury is violated only if the judge considers facts not found by the jury or admitted by the defendant, and the result is a higher sentence than the maximum that could have been imposed had those facts not been considered.

In this case, the appellate jurist noted, Snyder imposed a sentence at the bottom of the applicable range for a level 38 offense by a defendant with Mayfield’s history. Without the two-level gun enhancement, Thompson explained, the applicable range would have been 210 to 262 months.

Since Snyder could have imposed the 262-month sentence without the gun finding, Blakely and Ameline have no effect, Thompson said.

The case is United States v. Mayfield, 02-50831.


Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company