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Home / Opinions / Courts / 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals / Criminal Law : Sentencing – Prior Convictions – Career Offender

Criminal Law : Sentencing – Prior Convictions – Career Offender

Where a defendant in a drug conspiracy case moved to vacate his sentence arguing that ineffective assistance of counsel resulted in an improper career-offender sentencing determination, the rule of lenity did not exclude the defendant’s 2005 felony conviction for resisting arrest, and even though counsel had the benefit of a relevant, new case two weeks before the direct appeal was decided, the court declines to find that an appellate attorney must read advance sheets and consider newly decided cases in this time period.


Rule of lenity

Opinion dissenting in part; concurring in the judgment by Bye, J.: “Williams directly conflicts with King as well as earlier Eighth Circuit precedent….

“Finally, I note my continued belief the rule of lenity should apply where it is uncertain which of multiple prior convictions receives criminal history points.”

Judgment is affirmed.

Donnell v. U.S. (MLW No. 66870/Case No. 12-3465 – 10 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Loken, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Western District, Fenner, J. (Andrea L. Smith, Kirkwood, argued for appellant) (Philip M. Koppe,  Kansas City, Missouri, argued for appellee).

Read the full text of this opinion. (PDF)