From the Associated Press on February 27, 2008...
The prison law clerk who convinced the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a fellow inmate's drug possession case is being investigated by South Carolina's Attorney General Henry McMaster for practicing law without a license. Jailhouse lawyer Michael Ray, who is serving time for real-estate fraud, drafted an appeal for pro-se litigant Keith Lavon Burgess arguing that Burgess' 20-year mandatory minimum sentence was inappropriate because his prior drug conviction was not a felony but rather a misdemeanor. While Ray does not have college or law school education, he drafted a fairly clever appeal and now the Supreme Court has granted review of the case.
Stanford Law School Professor Jeff Fisher will be arguing the case before the Supreme Court on Burgess' behalf.
The case under review is: Burgess v. United States
Supreme Court Docket: 06-11429
Decision Below: 478 F3d 658
Lower Court Case Number: 04-4997
- Whether the term "felony drug offense" as used in the federal statute requiring imposition of enhanced mandatory minimum 20 years' imprisonment when drug offender has "prior conviction for a felony drug offense" must be read in pari material with federal statutes defining both "felony" and "felony drug offense," so as to require imposition of a minimum 20 year sentence only if prior drug conviction is both punishable by more than one year in prison and characterized as a felony by controlling law?
- When the court finds that a criminal statute is ambiguous, must it then turn to rule of lenity to resolve ambiguity?