Monday, October 15, 2007

i know i've got skills, man, i know i've got skills...

i'm working on moot court right now, and about to go crazy. but, sometimes in my research, i stumble upon cases that may not be relevant, but still provide a humourous break.

enter, United States v. Burt, 134 F.3d 997 (10th Cir. 1998). the defendant had been convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. the prosecutor had applied for a sentencing enhancement applicable when a defendant uses special skills in order to commit the crime.

now, under the sentencing guidelines, "'special skill' refers to a skill not possessed by members of the general public and usually requiring substantial education, training, or licensing. Examples would include pilots, lawyers, doctors, accountants, chemists, and demolition experts." U.S.S.G. §3B1.3, comment (n.2).

the prosecutor then tried to argue that the defendant had special skills...in the field of drug dealing.

this led to the wonderful passage:

We hold that regardless of whether Defendant learned his drug-dealing tricks through his work as a deputy sheriff or through self-teaching, tricks such as concealing drugs in a can with a false bottom do not qualify as "special skills" within the meaning of the guideline.

Such drug-dealing "skills" cannot reasonably be equated with the skills developed and possessed by "pilots, lawyers, doctors, accountants, chemists, and demolition experts."

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