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MONCRIEFFE v. HOLDER

Docket No.: 11-702
Certiorari Granted: Apr 2 2012
Argued: October 10, 2012
Decided: April 23, 2013

Topics:

Controlled Substances Act, Immigration and Nationality Act, Sixth Amendment, immigration, stare decisis

PartyNames: Adrian Moncrieffe v. Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General
Petitioner: Adrian Moncrieffe
Respondent: Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Citation: 662 F.3d 387
Lower Court Decision
Supreme Court Docket
Supreme Court Observer Blog Post for MONCRIEFFE v. HOLDER

Adrian Moncrieffe
v.
Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General
Background:

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a state crime is an "aggravated felony" if it is equivalent to a "felony punishable under the Controlled Substances Act." 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(B); 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(2). Under the Controlled Substances Act, possession of an unspecified quantity of marijuana with intent to distribute is a felony punishable by up to five years of imprisonment. 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(D). If the defendant shows that he distributed only "a small amount of marihuana for no remuneration," however, the maximum punishment is one year of imprisonment (absent a recidivist finding). 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(4), 844, 885(a)(1).

Facts:

A non-citizen convicted of a felony punishable under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is subject to mandatory deportation. Under the CSA,some convictions for the distribution of marijuana are punishable as felonies; others are instead merely misdemeanors. The Immigration and Nationality Act provides that an alien "who is convicted of an aggravated felony at any time after admission is deportable." 8 U.S.C. Section 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). A state law offense may constitute an "aggravated felony" if it is the equivalent of a "felony punishable under the Controlled Substances Act." 8 U.S.C. Section 1101(a)(43)(B); 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c)(2). Under the Controlled Substances Act, a person commits a felony if he possesses with intent to distribute "less than 50 kilograms of marihuana," 21 U.S.C. Section 841, except that a person whose offense involves "distributing a small amount of marihuana for no remuneration" commits only a misdemeanor, id. Sections 841(b)(4), 844.

Question Presented:

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides that an alien "who is convicted of an aggravated felony at any time after admission is deportable." 8 U.S.C. §1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). A state law offense may constitute an "aggravated felony" if it is the equivalent of a "felony punishable under the Controlled Substances Act." 8 U.S.C.§ 1101(a)(43)(B); 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (2). Under the Controlled Substances Act, a person commits a felony if he possesses with intent to distribute "less than 50 kilograms of marihuana," 21 U.S.C. § 841, except that a person whose offense involves "distributing a small amount of marihuana for no remuneration" commits only a misdemeanor, id. §§ 841(b)(4), 844. The Question Presented, which is also pending before the Court in No. 11-79, Garcia v. Holder, is: Whether a conviction under a provision of state law that encompasses but is not limited to the distribution of a small amount of marijuana without remuneration constitutes an aggravated felony, notwithstanding that the record of conviction does not establish that the alien was convicted of conduct that would constitute a federal law felony.

Question:

The Question Presented, which is also pending before the Court in No. 11-79, Garcia v. Holder, is: Whether a conviction under a provision of state law that encompasses but is not limited to the distribution of a small amount of marijuana without remuneration constitutes an aggravated felony, notwithstanding that the record of conviction does not establish that the alien was convicted of conduct that would constitute a federal law felony. Did the Fifth Circuit err in holding that every conviction for marijuana distribution is a felony that triggers mandatory deportation unless immigration authorities find, based on facts outside the conviction, that the offense corresponds to the misdemeanor?

MONCRIEFFE v. HOLDER
ORAL ARGUMENT

October 10, 2012

Listen to Oral Argument in MONCRIEFFE v. HOLDER
Holding: REVERSED AND REMANDED
Vote: 7-2
For more coverage on MONCRIEFFE v. HOLDER please see our blog posting.
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