Burgess v. United States

Amicus curiae brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

Brief filed: 01/29/2008


Burgess v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 06-11429

Prior Decision

Opinion below 478 F.3d 658 (4th Cir. 2007).

Question Presented

1. Whether the term “felony drug offense” as used in federal statute requiring imposition of enhanced mandatory minimum 20 years’ imprisonment when drug offender has “prior conviction for a felony drug offense” must be read in pari material with federal statutes defining both “felony” and “felony drug offense”, so as to require imposition of minimum 20—year sentence only if prior drug conviction is both punishable by more than one year in prison and characterized as a felony by controlling law. 2. When the court finds that a criminal statute is ambiguous, must it then turn to rule of lenity to resolve ambiguity?



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Pamela Harris, O’Melveny & Myers, Washington, D.C.; Peter Goldberger, Ardmore, Pa.; Mary Price, FAMM, Washington, D.C.; Kevin B. Huff and Gregory G. Rapawy, Kellogg Huber, Washington, D.C.