Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Thompson: 851 notice for 1st trial valid for 2nd trial

In U.S. v. Thompson, No. 05-15052 (Dec. 27, 2006), the Court affirmed the defendant’s convictions for drug and weapons possession, and the life sentence imposed pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 841 for a defendant with three prior drug felony convictions.
The Court rejected the defendant’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. Even though the defendant was not in the apartment in which drugs and guns were found, his papers, including a print out of telephone numbers from his cell phone, were found there.
The Court also rejected the argument that the government did not timely serve him with notice of its intent to seek a sentence enhancement based on prior convictions, as required by 21 U.S.C. § 851(a)(1). The Court noted that Thompson had been served with the notice, in timely fashion, prior to his first trial on the same charges – which ended in a mistrial. This made it unnecessary for the government to refile the notice prior to Thompson’s second trial on these charges. Further, as to certain charges that were newly added to Thompson’s indictment for his second trial, the initial § 851 notice also sufficed. The Court found that this notice gave Thompson adequate notice to challenge the prior convictions, should he have wished to do so, and made him aware of the potential downside of a conviction at trial.