United States v. Brooke

308 F.3d 17 (2002)

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United States v. Brooke

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
308 F.3d 17 (2002)

Facts

At age 70, Juan Brooke (defendant) was convicted in federal court of possessing cocaine with an intent to distribute it. After five years in prison, Brooke was allowed out on supervised release. At age 78, while still on supervised release, Brooke was convicted in a District of Columbia superior court of new cocaine-related charges. Brooke served six months in prison for that conviction before being released on probation. Several years later, while still on probation, Brooke was arrested for distributing significant amounts of cocaine out of his apartment. As part of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors declined to charge Brooke with distributing cocaine and instead charged him with the lesser offense of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. This conspiracy offense carried a maximum possible sentence of 60 months, or five years, in prison. At Brooke’s sentencing, Brooke presented evidence that he (1) was 82 years old and (2) had several physical issues, including respiratory problems, cardiac concerns, arthritis, and mobility issues in his knees and hands. Brooke asked the court to apply two potential downward departures to reduce his prison sentence or convert the sentence to home detention. One requested departure was based on a defendant’s age, and the other was based on a defendant’s physical condition. The district court declined to apply either downward departure. Although the court found that Brooke was elderly and had physical issues, it also found that (1) Brooke’s history showed that his advanced age did not make him less of a drug-dealing threat, (2) Brooke’s physical issues were not extraordinary, and (3) home confinement would not be as effective as prison because Brooke had a history of dealing drugs out of his home. Brooke received the full 60-month sentence. Brooke appealed, arguing that the district court had misunderstood how the downward departures worked and that the court should have applied the departures to Brooke’s sentence.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Garland, J.)

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