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Copyright (c) 1998 Oklahoma Law Review
Oklahoma Law Review

NOTE: Criminal Law: Diagram of a Drug Sentence - Defining "Mixture or Substance" on the Basis of Utility in United States v. Richards

Spring, 1998

51 Okla. L. Rev. 119

Author

Matthew Thomas Geiger

Excerpt



I. Introduction



Ancient civilizations contemplated the ideal attributes of justice with prophetic clarity. The Egyptian story of final judgment provides a particularly instructive example. 1 According to Egyptian religious doctrine, souls of the deceased presented their hearts to the deity Anubis. 2 The heart was then weighed on a scale opposite a single feather in the Hall of Two Truths. 3 If the heart was lighter than the feather, the soul was judged to be pure. 4 The story suggests the Egyptians understood the heart to be the essential element of human good or evil. Therefore, the lifeless mortal body was irrelevant to the calculation of salvation or damnation. Its inclusion would simply corrupt a fair and uniform belief in the method of final judgment.



Although centuries old, the tale frames an unresolved criminal sentencing issue in the American justice system. Under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, 5 narcotics offenders are subject to mandatory minimum sentences for possession of "a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount" of illegal drugs. 6 Defining the allowable contents of a "mixture or substance" marks the point of controversy. According to judicial interpretations, "mixture or substance" may include: (1) any substance chemically bonded to the pure drug; 7 (2) any substance chemically bonded to the pure drug for the purpose of facilitating street sales; 8 or (3) any ingestible substance chemically bonded to the pure drug. 9 Building upon the Egyptian analogy, American courts are confused about what to place ...
 
 
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