Friday, May 2, 2014
Earlier this week, a federal District Court in North Carolina rejected the habeas petition of a man who was sentenced to consecutive terms of 101-131 months (roughly 16 - 22 years) for his role in arranging the sale of $20 worth of marijuana. The petitioner, Robin Eugene Land, argued the sentence was cruel and unusual and that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel. Land's lengthy sentence was tied to North Carolina's habitual felon statute but the opinion doesn't appear to shed light on what his prior offenses were (neither, from a brief review, does the state appeals court's decision on direct review.)
In any event, whatever his prior record, Land will be spending the next 16 to 22 years in prison for arranging (not selling but arranging) a marijuana sale. Oh, and the whole thing began with an undercover cop driving around asking for people to help him find marijuana.
Here are the facts from this depressing case (PDF):
The State’s evidence tended to show the following facts. On the evening of 14 August 2009, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Andrew A. Demaioribus was working as part of a team targeting street-level narcotic sales by conducting undercover buy operations on Charlotte city streets. While working undercover, Officer Demaioribus wore plain clothes and drove alone in an unmarked car. Additional police units stayed within two blocks of Officer Demaioribus’ location to provide assistance in the event that Officer Demaioribus' safety was compromised.
At about 11:25 p.m., Officer Demaioribus observed defendant in front of a residence. Officer Demaioribus pulled over and asked defendant if defendant could help him “get some green,” to which defendant replied, “Yeah. I can get you some.” Defendant then got into Officer Demaioribus’ vehicle. Defendant instructed Officer Demaioribus to drive to several residences in the area in search of marijuana.
Before defendant left the car at the first residence, Officer Demaioribus handed defendant a $20 bill. Defendant was unable to locate marijuana at the first few residences. When they arrived at the last location, defendant got out of the car, walked out of sight, and returned after one or two minutes. In defendant’s absence, Officer Demaioribus relayed his location to other officers using a cell phone. When defendant got back into the car, Officer Demaioribus asked, “Have you got my stuff?” Defendant replied, “Yeah. I got your shit. I got it.” Defendant then handed Officer Demaioribus two baggies containing a green substance that Officer Demaioribus thought was marijuana.
After the transaction was complete, Officer Demaioribus gave a “take down signal” to inform other officers that defendant should be arrested. Defendant instructed Officer Demaioribus to drive him to a nearby store. Officer Demaioribus dropped defendant off in the store's parking lot and immediately radioed to a supporting officer, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Derek E. Rud, to provide a description of defendant. Officer Rud pulled into the store’s parking lot and arrested defendant. Although he searched defendant pursuant to the arrest, Officer Rud did not locate the $20 bill Officer Demaioribus had given defendant. Subsequently, chemical analysis indicated that the substance in the baggies was 2.03 grams of marijuana.
On 24 August 2009, defendant was indicted for possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana and for delivering cocaine. Defendant was additionally indicted for selling marijuana. Subsequently, on 2 November 2009, the State obtained a superseding indictment charging defendant with delivering marijuana. In addition, defendant was indicted for being a habitual felon.