439 U.S. 1091 (1979)

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U.S. Supreme Court

CARMONA v. WARD , 439 U.S. 1091 (1979)

439 U.S. 1091

Martha CARMONA and Roberta Fowler, petitioners,
Benjamin WARD, Commissioner of the New York Department of Correctional Services, et al
No. 78-5531

Supreme Court of the United States

January 8, 1979

Petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Mr. Justice MARSHALL, with whom Mr. Justice POWELL joins, dissenting.

In 1973, New York enacted a comprehensive drug law which prescribes mandatory maximum life sentences and varying minimum terms of imprisonment for all class A narcotics felonies. N.Y. Penal Law 70.00(2)(a), 70.00( 3)(a) (McKinney).1 The Court today declines to consider whether two mandatory life sentences imposed under this statute, one for possession of an ounce of a substance containing cocaine, and the other for sale of 0. 00455 of an ounce of a substance containing cocaine, constitute cruel and unusual punishment.


In 1975, petitioner Martha Carmona pleaded guilty to possession of an ounce of a substance containing cocaine in viola-

Page 439 U.S. 1091 , 1092

tion of N.Y. Penal Law 220.18 (McKinney Supp.1978).2 The Appellate Division affirmed her conviction, and the New York Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal. People v. Carmona, 40 N.Y.2d 1081, 392 N.Y.S.2d 1031, 360 N.E.2d 965 (1976). She is currently serving a sentence of six years to life, the minimum possible for a 220.18 violation under the 1973 statute. N.Y. Penal Law 70.00(2)(a), (3)(a)(ii) (McKinney 1975).3 Prior to a series of events giving rise to the instant charges, petitioner Carmona had no criminal record except for one non-drug-related arrest 19 years earlier. [Footnote 4]

Petitioner Roberta Fowler was convicted in February 1974, of selling 0.00455 of an ounce of a substance containing cocaine to an undercover agent for $20, in violation of N.Y. Penal Law 220.39 (McKinney Supp.1978). 5 The state trial court sentenced her to four years to life under 70. 00(2)(a) [439 U.S. 1091 , 1093]

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