US court orders review of 1st of Miss. drug cases

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — The first of five Mississippi drug cases have been returned to a federal judge for resentencing under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The drug cases all came out of the U.S. District Court in North Mississippi since 2010.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this past week returned the case of Willie Lee Fields to the north Mississippi court. Fields was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute in 2010.

Four other Mississippi cases are pending before the 5th Circuit. They are:

— James Hicks was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of distributing 247.2 grams of cocaine base in 2010.

— Samuel Pettis was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base in 2010.

— Larry Shoumaker was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base in 2010.

— Desmond Burnett was sentenced to five years on charges of possession with intent to distribute more than five grams of cocaine base.

The nation’s high court ruled in June that people who committed crack cocaine crimes before more lenient penalties took effect and received their prison sentence afterward should benefit from the new rules.

The ruling came in an Illinois case in which Corey A. Hill and Edward Dorsey were arrested in 2007 and 2008 for selling crack cocaine and faced mandatory 10-year sentences in Illinois.

But they weren’t sentenced until after the Fair Sentencing Act went into effect in August 2010. That law reduces the difference between sentences for crimes committed by crack cocaine and powder cocaine users.

The Supreme Court said the courts should have used the new law to sentence the two men.