Ray v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Deseret Gymnasium

DOCKET NO.: 86-281
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-1987)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 481 US 736 (1987)
ARGUED: Apr 28, 1987
DECIDED: May 18, 1987

Joseph A. Connors, III - on behalf of the petitioner
William C. Bryson - on behalf of the respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Ray v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 28, 1987 in Ray v. United States

William H. Rehnquist:

We will hear argument next in No. 86-281, John William Ray versus the United States.

Mr. Connors, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Joseph A. Connors, III:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, with this Federal criminal case petitioner requests that the Court acknowledge the demise of the concurrent sentencing doctrine that has been utilized by this Court since at least 1891 in the Clawson case.

In our argument we plan to discuss the relevant trial evidence, the sentencing hearing, and the opinion in the Court of Appeals, the question presented, look at the government's special assessment contention, and then look through the arguments we make why the doctrine should be abolished, in particular calling this Court's attention to the Ninth Circuit case of United States versus DeBright where that circuit has abolished it in a well-reasoned opinion.

John Paul Stevens:

May I ask before you get too deeply into your argument are you going to discuss the government's motion that the issue really isn't here because these sentences were not the same?

Joseph A. Connors, III:

I was going to try to attempt to answer that while I am working on the special assessment.

Yes, sir.

John Paul Stevens:

All right.

It is rather important to me, because I--

Joseph A. Connors, III:

Certainly, Your Honor.

First, we need to look at the procedural background.

There's... defendant's indicted on three-count indictment, jury conviction.

The first count of the indictment deals with the conspiracy.

It says that the conspiracy lasted from May 25, 1985, until June 3 of 1985.

The defendant and Pablo Sandoval and others unknown to the grand jury unlawfully possessed with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine, and it is unspecified how much.

Count 2 charges the substantive offense of possession of one gram on May 29.

Count 3, which is in contention here, alleged the second substantive offense of possession with intent to distribute of approximately six ounces of cocaine on the following day, May 30.

At the sentencing hearing on May... excuse me, on October 2, 1985, the District Court committed petitioner to the custody of the attorney general for seven years on Count 1, seven years on Count 2 and 3, and a special parole term of five years on Counts 2 and 3.

Those sentences are to run concurrent.

These sentences were pursuant to 18 USC 4205(b)(2), and that provision of our law allows parole at the time the Parole Commission may deem appropriate.

Both parties in their briefs have treated this as a 4205(a) sentence, which is a little different.

The prisoner has to serve a third of his time before he ever becomes eligible.

We don't have this in this case officially from the District Court, but the Parole Board at their option, they have treated this as a sentence requiring the man to at least serve a third.

The actual trial evidence, we don't contest that were was a conspiracy.

John Paul Stevens:

--May I ask you before you finish the sentencing, have you described completely the sentences that were imposed?

I thought there was a $50--

Joseph A. Connors, III:

There as a $50 special assessment, Your Honor, I am sorry, on each of the three counts, for a total of $150, and that is pursuant to what we are going to reach in a minute, 18 USC 3013, the new Special Assessment Act.

We don't contest the evidence on the conspiracy in the sense that the conspiracy existed on May 29 for sure.

The government wanted to get into detail that the conspiracy continued through May 30th and I am... petitioner is not sure that there is sufficient evidence for that, and that is what Count 3 gets... it becomes very important about Count 3.

Count 3 is the crime of six ounces on May 30th, and I don't think there was enough evidence to convict my client of that crime.