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United States v. Weekly

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
128 F.3d 1198 (1997)


Facts

As part of a larger prosecution, the federal government (plaintiff) obtained Donna Romero's (defendant's) conviction for transporting illegal drugs. Violence was not a factor in the crime. Romero was found guilty and faced a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence. Romero asked the federal district court judge to reduce her sentence under the safety valve provision of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f) for certain nonviolent criminals with relatively clean records. During the pre-sentencing phase, Romero's husband and father of her children passed a lie-detector test to verify his story that Romero was solely responsible for the crime. On her lawyer's advice, Romero refused to take a similar test, perhaps in part because the reliability of such tests was suspect. The administrator of the husband's lie-detector test did not testify at Romero's sentencing hearing, and there was no credible evidence to show that the administrator was properly qualified or that the test was properly conducted. The husband's lie-detector test results, and Romero's refusal to be tested, persuaded the judge to reject Romero's request for a reduced sentence and to sentence her to five years' imprisonment. On appeal, a majority of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bright, J., dissenting)

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