cert grant – Miss.S.Ct. – Jan. 23, 2014 – sale of cocaine a crime of violence?

Chandler v. State – Exso Chandler is serving a ten-year sentence for sale of cocaine. He filed suit to “clarify his records” challenging MDOC’s calculation that he was not eligible for parole. Chandler’s record was as follows: In 1983 he had been convicted of simple assault of a police officer and received a three-year sentence. That same year he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana and received a six-month sentence. In 1993, he was convicted of the crime of sale of cocaine as a second offender under M.C.A. Sect. 41-29-147 and sentenced to 25 years. In December 2008, after being released from his 1994 sentence and “out on parole,” Chandler committed the instant crime, for which he pleaded guilty. Chandler was sentenced to ten years in the custody of the MDOC. In 2011 Chandler found out he had been deemed ineligible for parole by MDOC. At a pre-hearing conference on the Motion to Clarify Sentence, the State deemed Chandler ineligible for parole because his prior offenses carried enhanced penalties. The circuit court agreed, and the circuit court found Chandler had two convictions subject to enhanced-penalty status. First, his misdemeanor possession-of-marijuana conviction in 1983 caused him to be indicted on his first sale-of-cocaine charge in 1994 as a second offender under section 41-29-147. Thus, the court found this 1994 felony is subject to an enhanced penalty. Second, his sentence for the prior conviction of simple assault on a law enforcement officer was found to be an enhanced penalty since the status of Chandler’s victim subjected him to a stiffer sentence. Both of these felonies, however, occurred prior to June 30, 1995, and would not make Chandler ineligible for parole for his current sentence. On appeal, the Ct. of Appeals found that Chandler was not eligible for parole because the statute defined sale of cocaine as a crime of violence and, therefore, he is not eligible for parole. The cert. pet. raises the issue of whether sale of cocaine is supposed to be considered a crime of violence notwithstanding anything the legislature has to say about it. Chandler is representing himself. Another consideration that comes to mind – was Chandler’s guilty plea voluntary if he was not advised that any sentence would be ineligible for parole?

4 thoughts on “cert grant – Miss.S.Ct. – Jan. 23, 2014 – sale of cocaine a crime of violence?

  1. Here’s the statute at issue:
    Miss. Code Ann. § 47-7-3(1)
    (h) No person shall be eligible for parole who is convicted or whose suspended sentence is revoked after June 30, 1995, except that an offender convicted of only nonviolent crimes after June 30, 1995, may be eligible for parole if the offender meets the requirements in subsection (1) and this paragraph. In addition to other requirements, if an offender is convicted of a drug or driving under the influence felony, the offender must complete a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program prior to parole or the offender may be required to complete a post-release drug and alcohol program as a condition of parole. For purposes of this paragraph, “nonviolent crime” means a felony other than homicide, robbery, manslaughter, sex crimes, arson, burglary of an occupied dwelling, aggravated assault, kidnapping, felonious abuse of vulnerable adults, felonies with enhanced penalties, the sale or manufacture of a controlled substance under the Uniform Controlled Substances Law, felony child abuse, or exploitation or any crime under Section 97-5-33 or Section 97-5-39(2) or 97-5-39(1)(b), 97-5-39(1)(c) or a violation of Section 63-11-30(5). An offender convicted of a violation under Section 41-29-139(a), not exceeding the amounts specified under Section 41-29-139(b), may be eligible for parole. In addition, an offender incarcerated for committing the crime of possession of a controlled substance under the Uniform Controlled Substances Law after July 1, 1995, shall be eligible for parole.

  2. Do you know of anything being done to rectify this issue on enhancement because of prior felony? Gezzzz possession of drugs is not violent.

  3. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and vacated it because it was filed in the county where Esco was incarcerated instead of the county where he was convicted. If you look him up on the MDOC website, he’s on the list of parolees and not the list of inmates. I’m glad you asked the question to prompt me to follow up on the case.

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