Aug. 26, 2016 – A man who pleaded guilty to selling a large amount of methamphetamine with his girlfriend in northwestern Wisconsin recently lost his federal appeal, despite his argument that the judge improperly calculated the quantity he sold.
The district judge found that Dominic Miller sold between 500 grams and 1.5 kilograms, and sentenced him to eight years in prison, below the guidelines range. But Miller appealed, arguing that it was error to conclude that he sold that much meth.
But in U.S. v. Miller, No. 15 (Aug. 19, 2016), a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the sentence, noting that “determining drug quantities attributable to defendants is not an exact science.”
Joe Forward, Saint Louis Univ. School of Law 2010, is a legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. He can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6161.
The panel said the district judge did not commit a clear error in determining that Miller sold between 500 grams and 1.5 kilograms during the time period at issue, based on testimony from his girlfriend, who was jointly charged, and video from a webcam that Miller’s girlfriend set up to determine whether Miller was cheating on her.
Miller argued that his girlfriend, Amy Wagner, had a motivation to lie. She told police that she and Miller together distributed at least 500 grams.
“But Miller fails to substantiate this conclusory assertion, which is unsurprising given the fact that inflating the joint enterprise’s drug quantity would have been against Wagner’s penal interest,” Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote for the three-judge panel.
Miller also argued that he only sold a portion of the drugs, less than 500 grams. But the panel noted that the district judge found the two engaged in a joint enterprise.
“[T]hat made Miller responsible for all acts within the scope of, in furtherance of, and reasonably foreseeable in connection with that activity,” Judge Williams wrote.