LEE v. U.S,
414 U.S. 1045 (1973)

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U.S. Supreme Court

LEE v. U.S , 414 U.S. 1045 (1973)

414 U.S. 1045

Melvin LEE
No. 73-5256.

Supreme Court of the United States

November 19, 1973

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, with whom Mr. Justice MARSHALL concurs, dissenting.

Petitioner was convicted of two counts of distributing heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1); he later pleaded guilty to a third count. After petitioner's plea on the third count, the District Court sentenced him to concurrent 15-year terms on the three counts, recommending that petitioner be given drug addition treatment at the Federal Youth Center at Ashland, Kentucky.

Page 414 U.S. 1045 , 1046

It refused, however, to sentence petitioner under the provisions of the Narcotics Addict Rehabilitation Act, 18 U.S.C. 4251 et seq. Petitioner claims that in the circumstances of this case the trial judge abused his discretion in refusing to sentence him under the NARA.

The three charges against petitioner grew out of three transactions in which he acted as a middleman, purchasing heroin from two different wholesalers for a federal agent. Petitioner received only a total of $15 from the three sales, which was used to buy heroin for his own personal use. Petitioner also retained some of the drug he had purchased for his own personal use.

The District Court refused to sentence petitioner under the NARA with the possibility of early release to the community because he had 'sold' heroin, and was not just a user. [Footnote 1]

Under 4251 of the NARA, individuals are generally not 'eligible' for NARA sentencing if they have sold narcotics; Congress, however, created an express exception for those who sold primarily to support their own addiction. Section 4252, on which the Court of Appeals relied in affirming the District Court, provides that if a court believes an eligible offender to be an addict, it 'may' place him in the custody of the Attorney General to determine whether he is an addict likely to be rehabilitated through treatment. Section 4253 provides that if a court, after this study, finds that an offender is an addict and rehabilitatable, it 'shall' sentence him under the NARA, with exceptions not here relevant. [414 U.S. 1045 , 1047]

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