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United States v. Abrahamson

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

September 9, 2013

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
Michael Byron ABRAHAMSON, Defendant-Appellant.

Submitted: Aug. 30, 2013.

Appeal from United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa-Des Moines.

Scott L. Bandstra, Karmen R. Anderson, Des Moines, IA, for appellant.

James M. McHugh, Spec. Asst. U.S. Atty., Des Moines, IA (Nicholas A. Klinefeldt, U.S. Atty., on the brief), for appellee.

Before GRUENDER, BENTON, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM.

Michael Byron Abrahamson was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1). At sentencing, the district court [1] found that Abrahamson had a prior felony drug conviction and applied a statutory sentencing enhancement that doubled his mandatory minimum sentence from ten years to twenty years. See 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1). Based on the enhancement, the district court sentenced Abrahamson to twenty years' imprisonment. Abrahamson appealed his conviction and sentence, arguing, inter alia, that the district court's application of the sentencing enhancement violated the Sixth Amendment because the fact underlying the enhancement— the existence of a prior felony drug conviction— was found by the district court rather than a jury. We affirmed. See United States v. Abrahamson, 685 F.3d 777 (8th Cir.2012). On June 24, 2013, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari, vacated the judgment, and remanded the case for further consideration in light of the Court's decision in Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 2151, 186 L.Ed.2d 314 (2013). See Abrahamson v. United States, 570 U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 2853, 186 L.Ed.2d 904 (2013).

In Alleyne, the Court held that a fact that increases a defendant's mandatory

Page 752

minimum sentence is an element of the crime that must be submitted to a jury. See 133 S.Ct. at 2155. However, the Court in Alleyne left intact the rule that enhancements based on the fact of a prior conviction are an exception to the general rule that facts increasing the prescribed range of penalties must be presented to a jury. See id. at 2160 n. 1 (explaining that because the parties did not address the recidivism enhancement exception recognized in Almendarez-Torres v. United States, 523 U.S. 224, 118 S.Ct. 1219, 140 L.Ed.2d 350 (1998), the Court would not revisit the issue). Because the challenged enhancement of Abrahamson's sentence was based solely on his prior felony drug conviction, it continues to fall under the recidivism exception to the jury presentation requirement that the Court recognized in Almendarez-Torres and left unchanged in Alleyne. See United States v. Torres-Alvarado, 416 F.3d 808, 810 (8th Cir.2005) (" While it is unclear whether Almendarez-Torres and its felony exception will remain good law, we are bound by Almendarez-Torres until the Supreme Court explicitly overrules it." (internal citation omitted)). Thus, we affirm Abrahamson's sentence, and we affirm Abrahamson's conviction for the reasons stated in our prior opinion. See Abrahamson, 685 F.3d 777.


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